Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) invested heavily in distributed antenna systems (DAS), small cells and cell on wheels (COWs) to make sure their networks can handle what comes on Feb. 7 when an estimated 75,000 football fans convene in the San Francisco metro area for Super Bowl 50.
Verizon said it made a $70 million long-term investment to more than triple LTE wireless data network capacity in key areas throughout the Bay Area for Super Bowl week. AT&T invested more than $25 million so fans can post and share experiences faster and easier.
Besides Levi's Stadium, where AT&T upgraded its DAS to provide 150 percent more LTE capacity than the start of the 2015 pro football season, it also upgraded or installed new DAS at 26 locations throughout the Bay Area ahead of the big game. Hotels, arenas, airports, conventions centers and other venues are reaping the benefits.
Verizon built 16 new area cell sites and installed 75 small cells. It also deployed for the first time what it describes as a patented antenna system to reach the lower stadium seats. The carrier boosted capacity by adding 37 XLTE systems to existing sites and completed preparations to deploy 14 mobile cell sites in high-traffic locations. Before and during Super Bowl 50, Verizon's special team of 100 technicians and engineers will monitor and manage the network in real-time, both in San Francisco and in and around Levi's Stadium.
AT&T said it has deployed nine COWs to handle increased demands for the game. Verizon activated seven COWs to serve the stadium and NFL and city events.
Why all the fuss? Verizon said it's doing all this because it anticipates this year's game to be the most "shared" Super Bowl. "A better wireless network matters when it comes to capturing and sharing life's greatest moments," said Brian Mecum, vice president of network for Verizon Wireless, in a release.
After the game is over, residents and visitors to Santa Clara and the surrounding area should experience better service than before. Verizon said it tripled capacity at Oakland International Airport and added a DAS to serve San Francisco International Airport's terminals 2 and 3, while adding "enhanced capacity" for terminals 1 and 4. It also made capacity improvements at San Jose International Airport and added capacity along major commuter systems.
A Verizon spokeswoman said it has no plans to demonstrate LTE-Multicast during this year's Super Bowl. During the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, somewhat famously discussed his desire to use LTE Multicast to deliver video services to Verizon's customers during 2014's Super Bowl, but that didn't happen.
Levi's Stadium is also a venue where Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has deployed beacons using Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 in conjunction with the stadium's Wi-Fi gear. Fans need to opt in, but they can watch video replays and order food from their seats using their mobile devices.
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