Many people thought the final score of this year’s Super Bowl was New England Patriots 28-Seattle Seahawks 24. They were wrong.
The results that really mattered came out the next day. Verizon Wireless came in at 4.1 terabytes of data, compared with 1.9 terabytes during the 2014 Super Bowl. Mobile data traffic used over AT&T’s network inside and outside the stadium was more than 1.7 terabytes of data or 4.8 million social media posts with photos. Sprint came in at 754 gigabytes and T-Mobile followed with 430 gigabytes. All told, nearly 7 terabytes of traffic flowed across wireless networks on Super Bowl Sunday. Whoo!
If we are to believe the forecasts of the coming data tsunami, each of these Super Bowls is like a vision of the future. A reverse time capsule, if you will, with information about how wireless networks will be used in the future. How are these networks able to handle the increasing data usage?
It begins with the infrastructure, as you know. In the last issue of AGL Small Cell Link we covered how TE Connectivity deployed DAS networks that helped all the carriers rise to the challenge. Carriers built cell sites, small cell systems, and indoor and outdoor DAS, as well as deploying mobile cell sites. Verizon Wireless introduced its Advanced LTE or “XLTE” technology to increase its LTE bandwidth and provided LTE broadcast.
On top of that, the systems were tested and retested to ensure they would meet signal and performance standards. For example, Verizon network engineers, monitoring network performance during the game, reported the biggest spike, a 41 percent data surge, in network activity when the Patriots scored in the first quarter and data usage hit a game-day high with a 60 percent increase during the big halftime show.
Data Throughput Begins With Antennas
Among other upgrades, the DAS at University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, was upgraded with cutting edge antennas. In interviews with Galtronics officials at the TESSCO ONE Innovation Showcase and Conference, AGL Small Cell Link learned that the manufacturer’s ticket to the Super Bowl was a newly introduced antenna that projects 30 degrees vertically and 30 degrees horizontally.
Previously, that style of antenna was unavailable. The Cardinal’s stadium became one of the first deployments of the product.
Galtronics’ Extent D5777i (30 degrees/30 degrees) antenna, which has fast roll-off beams and minimal side lobes and covers 698-960/1710-2700 MHz, was chosen because it was designed to allow RF engineers to plan and implement a particularly dense network that could handle high-capacity communications in University of Phoenix Stadium.
The construction of the DAS took place in October, and the final touches were made early this year to include enhanced coverage outside the stadium, with antennas placed on light poles and on the shell of the stadium, just in time for the Super Bowl.
The narrow beam of the D5777i allows it to target the energy where it needs to go without interfering with other sectors. The D5501i (30 degrees/60 degrees) antenna was added to the mix because it also has a sharp roll off on the coverage pattern, which is important when creating sectors.
As a result, engineers were able to take the 33-sector DAS that was deployed at the venue only two years ago and boost it to 48 sectors, including 96 main hubs, 49 expansion hubs and 225 remote antenna units to cover the stadium bowl, luxury boxes and service areas.
Back to the game, Super Bowl 49 (and Katy Perry’s halftime performance by the way) lived up to the unbelievable media hype, and the DAS systems certainly did their part in creating a spectacular fan experience.