This Sunday’s Super Bowl LII promises to be an exciting match up, pitting the New England Patriots against the Philadelphia Eagles. Last year’s game brought in over $400 million in TV advertising revenue for Fox , and thirty second spots for the upcoming game have reached an astronomical $5 million. The NFL , tier one carriers, and many networking companies have also made significant investments in improving the mobile fan experience for those attending the game in person. Today I will examine two companies that are key participants in these efforts to enhance the Super Bowl for attendees.
Verizon Wireless and the mobile broadband experience
I had the opportunity to recently speak with Verizon Wireless about its Super Bowl LII preparation plans, which have been years in the making. Instead of simply bringing in RDUs (Rapid Deployment Units) or COWs (Cell on Wheels) at the last minute to amplify mobile broadband coverage, Verizon is making long-term infrastructure investments in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area and at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Verizon has installed over 230 permanent small cells within the Twin Cities, many of which are mounted to light poles near high population density areas. Not only should general voice, text, and data services improve, but the city of Minneapolis will also benefit from a new smart camera monitoring capability (piggybacking on the enhanced infrastructure). Within U.S. Bank Stadium itself, Verizon has installed a unique array of antenna hardware to ensure a high quality of service for its customers. Two large “MatSing Balls” are suspended high above fans, providing enhanced performance and capacity by utilizing radio frequency lens technology. Couple that with the 1,200+ hidden antennas embedded into stadium handrails, under seats, and drink rails and the carrier has knocked it out of the park. Sorry NFL—no baseball pun intended!
I also recently had the opportunity to speak with Norman Rice, Chief Marketing Officer for Extreme Networks. The company has had a relationship with the NFL dating back to 2014 and as a result, was tapped to provide Wi-Fi gear and Wi-Fi analytics for last year’s big game. As the official Wi-Fi solution provider to the NFL, Extreme has deployed its Wi-Fi infrastructure in 10 stadiums around the country and its Wi-Fi analytics in an additional 12. The beefed-up hardware results in higher quality of service, while the analytics provide valuable insights with respect to data capacity and consumption trends. Not surprisingly, the company has learned that iTunes and YouTube are fans’ top preferences for streaming content. From a social media perspective, Facebook registers the most hits and SnapChat the most data consumption. These learnings are invaluable in allowing stadium IT staff to fine-tune its networks for the optimal fan experience. Extreme Network’s cloud-based “ExtremeAnalytics” and “Wi-Fi Coach” will be employed again for Super Bowl LII.
The most important experience – the attending fan
So how does the infrastructure from both a mobile broadband and Wi-Fi standpoint come together to create something truly experiential for the mobile user attending the game? For Super Bowl LII, the NFL has commissioned a standalone app, which will provide elements of gamification, social media integration, and wayfinding to food, drink, souvenirs and restroom facilities. Imagine the frustration directed specifically towards the NFLitself if its branded app failed to work? That’s where Verizon Wireless and Extreme Networks have stepped in and added value.
Over eleven terabytes of data were consumed at last year’s Super Bowl, representing a 57% increase over the prior year. That’s a staggering statistic and one that demonstrates the dramatic increase in video consumption over mobile broadband networks (a subject I have written previously written about here). The world will be tuned in on Sunday to the big game. For those lucky enough to attend and check it off their bucket list, it should be an amazing mobile experience—all thanks to the networking gear providers, the carriers, and the NFL .