Leading up to and during Sunday’s big game, Tutela is publishing a live network benchmarking dashboard for the Super Bowl, showing how AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are performing at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and the surrounding area.
Super Bowls are always a time for wireless operators to show their network prowess, and they spend tens of millions of dollars hardening their networks to ensure they can withstand the crush of traffic coming from the stadium and surrounding bars, restaurants and transportation hubs. Verizon engineers, for example, spent at least two years getting ready for the Super Bowl in Miami, and they’ll apply some of the same know-how when the game is played in Tampa next year.
Tutela said it’s monitoring the underlying network quality measurements of the Big 4 carriers (download speed, upload speed, latency, and signal strength), and keeping a close eye on Excellent Consistent Quality, Tutela's metric for whether a wireless connection is good enough for users to use demanding apps like HD video calling, video-focused social networking (like Snapchat), or stream HD replays of the action.
The dashboard is live now, and on the back end will be updated every hour during the game itself, according to Chris Mills, head of Industry Analysis at Tutela. Its system is tracking performance of 3G, 4G and 5G devices, although the installed base of 5G devices is minimal.
Based on results posted Thursday, Verizon was showing the fastest median download speed of 23.66 Mbps, followed by AT&T with 17.27 Mbps, T-Mobile with 15.94 Mbps and Sprint at 12.91 Mbps.
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Interestingly, Mills said the last time Tutela looked at at city-level congestion performance, some of the best cities in America were previous hosts of the Super Bowl, which makes sense given the Super Bowl prep that operators do. Carriers often make a point of saying how a certain amount of the upgrades they make are going to stay in the city long after the Super Bowl ends.
The Tutela crowd-sourced data is gathered through other apps on consumers’ devices; the company partners with application providers and puts its SDK into their apps. The data being collected from the Super Bowl is coming from hundreds and thousands of tests per operator per day. Mills said they’re focusing on some of the same geographic areas operators would likely focus on, leading up to the game day experience for the fans. That means looking at data at nearby hotels, bars and other establishments where fans are likely to congregate.
With special events often comes a concern that someone might try to game the system to make one carrier/competitor look better or worse. Mills said with Tutela’s methodology, “it’s impossible to gamify,” because its testing is in the background using anonymous apps.