AT&T (NYSE: T) has made AT&T Stadium, home of Dallas Cowboys football, a showcase for its wireless services, with an extensive Wi-Fi network, enough cellular-network capacity to serve a small suburb and the first stadium LED display built to respond directly to fans.
In preparation for the 2014-2015 NFL season, AT&T increased cellular-network capacity at the stadium more than 50 percent over what was available a year ago, when the operator snagged naming rights for the venue.
"At AT&T Stadium, we've got you covered with a Wi-Fi network of more than 1,500 access points and a more than 1,300-antenna Distributed Antenna System (DAS). Translated, that means the stadium has enough cellular muscle to service a small suburb the size of McKinney, Texas," wrote John Donovan, senior executive vice president of technology and network operations at AT&T Services, along with John Winborn, the Dallas Cowboys' CIO, in a jointly authored post on the AT&T Innovation Space Blog.
"We've invested millions to make sure the fan experience is the best we can possibly make it," Scott Mair, AT&T's senior vice president for network planning and engineering, told the Star-Telegram. He noted that the stadium now has the equivalent capacity of 17 macro cell sites.
The operator and the football team also worked with Obscura Digital to create a new 130-foot LED display made of 40 independent, robotic, mirrored, louvered panels that can each rotate 360 degrees. Starting with the Sept. 7 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, fans using the new AT&T Stadium app on their Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS or Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android devices will be able to interact with the display via a feature dubbed "Unite this House." The app is free, and users do not need to be AT&T customers to use it.
At certain times during a game, Cowboys fans will be prompted by the display and a push notification from the app to opt in. Those who participate might see their profile photos appear on the louvered display and other video boards within the stadium. In addition, their devices will light up with a strobe display they can flash in unison with other fans. The app will also enable fans to post selfies and other pictures to the AT&T fan-experience board, answer trivia questions and participate in polls.
AT&T has been focusing on increasing capacity and coverage through Project Velocity IP (VIP), the three-year IP broadband investment plan announced in November 2012. As part of Project VIP, the carrier pledged to add more than 1,000 distributed anntenna systems nationwide by the end of 2015. It is also deploying 10,000 macro cell sites and more than 40,000 small cells under the program.
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