The Super Bowl by the wireless and network numbers

More outbound than inbound data from stadium fans, AT&T finds

Beyond the biggest numbers that mattered, 21-17, AT&T released some interesting wireless and Internet usage figures from Sunday's Super Bowl victory for the New York Giants over the New England Patriots.

During a seven-hour period ranging from before, during and after the game, AT&T's customers at the football stadium in Indianapolis uploaded 40% more data than they downloaded. That data included videos, photos and texts to users outside the stadium, AT&T said.

Also, the total data usage for AT&T customers during that period was 215GB, the highest that AT&T ever experienced from a single sporting event.

AT&T customers at the event made 75,204 calls, which is about one-tenth of the 722,296 text messages that they sent and received.

In a blog, AT&T CTO John Donovan said the numbers were not surprising given the explosion of wireless usage in recent years. "These stats tell the story of how our mobile devices have been integral to our lives, and how they augment our experiences," he wrote.

AT&T beefed up its wireless service in Indianapolis and at the Lucas Oil Stadium for the event, including an AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Zone with 15 access points, and added capacity to 200 cell towers and other sites in the vicinity. Nine Cells on Wheels (portable cell towers) were added, as well as a distributed antenna system at the stadium and nearby.

The game was streamed online for the first time, spurring an enormous increase in traffic to NBCSports.com. Sandvine, a carrier equipment provider, said in its Better Broadband Blog that the Super Bowl stream at 9 p.m. ET took up 6.2% of all downstream website traffic.

Still, Sandvine said big screen TVs were preferred by fans over the Internet stream, noting that traffic on the stream dipped at kickoff time when compared to average levels for a Sunday. Netflix, normally the largest source of Internet traffic in North America, saw usage drop by more than 40% during the game, Sandvine said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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