Patriots fans to be first to use new Wi-Fi at home opener
Multimillion-dollar Wi-Fi deployment at Gillette Stadium designed to send quality instant replays to smartphones and tablets
Computerworld - When nearly 69,000 fans crowd into Gillette Stadium for the New England Patriots NFL home opener on Sept. 16, a new multimillion-dollar, high-density, bowlwide Wi-Fi network will be fired up for its first public use.
Fans will be able to see instant replays and real-time stats over various mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and and Android devices, officials said. Social networking and access to NFL Red Zone and Gillette Stadium and Patriots apps will also be available.
The new 802.11n Wi-Fi network is composed of more than 200 indoor and outdoor access points from Enterasys Networks, a Siemens Enterprise Communications company, said Ram Appalaraju, vice president of Enterasys marketing.
Enterasys also provided its S-series switches to integrate the Wi-Fi with the wired network at the core, along with a OneFabric control center for network management, which includes Enterasys software for identity and access management.
Fred Kirsch, vice president of content and publisher at the Patriots, said the team and Kraft Sports Group, which owns the Patriots team and Gillette Stadium, picked Enterasys over other vendors in part because of the high quality Wi-Fi experience that Enterasys could provide with centralized management and dense coverage.
The Gillette Wi-Fi network is designed to allow 40% of the fans in the stadium to simultaneously send video wirelessly. Enterasys found with other stadium deployments at soccer venues in Europe that about 12% of fans send video at the same time.
The biggest concern is video used by fans, which takes up far more bandwidth than other wireless uses, including access to real-time stats. Kirsch said he expects some fans to even use FaceTime and other video chat functions as they realize how well it works in the stadium.
The access points, from the Enterasys AP 3000 family, will operate over both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, supporting 200 users per access point.
Club level suites at Gillette have had Wi-Fi access for about three years, provided by another vendor that Kirsch refused to name. "We had a lot of lessons learned from that experience," he said.
One thing Kirsch learned was to understand user habits, including that bandwidth can be throttled up and down and that fans use smartphones during specific times of a game.
His experience has taught him that video to a smartphone requires about 400 Kbps per mobile device to come through at good quality. Kirsch said that much bandwidth works well, although he admitted it might seem like a surprisingly small amount. He's tested it extensively, transferring video on the new network with various devices.
The installation of the new network took about a month and cost the Kraft Sports Group "multimillions" of dollars, Kirsch said, without being more specific. That much of an investment is probably a fraction of what NFL teams pay star quarterbacks, but "it's worth it for our fans," he added.
Kirsch said Enterasys was chosen for many factors over other providers, but the ability to focus the direction of the access point antennas for a solid radio signal was "the best out there." The technical support and customer service from Enterasys were also a plus.
"I don't care which vendor you are using, if the people aren't up to snuff and won't give the best customer service, it doesn't really matter how good the hardware is," Kirsch added. "Most football teams don't have massive IT staffs, and if you bring in a massive project with bowlwide Wi-Fi, that's a serious ramp-up. So you have to have a company that stands behind it."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Wireless Networking in Computerworld's Wireless Networking Topic Center.
- 802.11ac Non-Disruptive Migration Strategies Emerging 802.11ac standard promises a significant boost in performance to support ubiquitous mobility.
- City Solved Network Mystery - Saves $30K The City of Jacksonville put their hunch to work and not only solved a mystery, but found a new and innovative use for...
- Making it work: Using Cisco and Microsoft Lync to Drive Collaboration Microsoft Lync is posting impressive adoption rates. As a Cisco Premier Partner and a company that has deployed Microsoft Lync to its own...
- Using Video to Gain a Competitive Advantage: A Business Strategy for Mid-Market Companies The insights provided in this white paper are based on industry analysts and 30+ years of experience from the Video Collaboration Group at...
- It's not too late...Get Your Mobile Questions Answered Live! How can IT provide seamless and secure mobile communications and collaboration for all? Join this live Webcast as IDG asks an expert panel...
- Why do you need an enterprise mobile platform? Today companies must offer great apps that run on a range of devices, and connect to an exploding set of backend data. Appcelerator... All Wireless Networking White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!