In 2014, the NFL’s Chief Information Officer Michelle McKenna-Doyle declared NRG Stadium in Houston a “black hole” for wireless coverage. Thankfully for Super Bowl attendees next weekend, the stadium has since shed that moniker due to several improvements made by wireless providers and the addition of WiFi in the 72,220-seat stadium, reports the Houston Chronicle.
“It’s a significant, significant difference in the last two years,” Texans VP Information Technology Jeff Schmitz told the Chronicle. “If you were with certain providers, it was not even worth bringing your phone in the stadium. Now, every phone has the ability to connect.”
These upgrades will be put to the test this Sunday as fans pile into the venue to take in one of the world’s most popular sporting events, but carriers think they are ready for the heavy data traffic. “I feel confident we will be able to handle what comes at us,” said Frank Jackowski, an AT&T area manager in the South Texas market.
The system was already put to the test earlier this month when the Houston Texans played in the first round of the NFL playoffs. During this contest, fans used an estimated 4.11 terabytes of data during the playoff game. Comparatively, 10 terabytes were used during last year’s Super Bowl in San Francisco.
Verizon spent $40 million in the development of its small cell network inside the stadium, as well as in the surrounding area. The carrier has a system of 783 small antennas, which is equal to the capacity of 54 cell towers.
T-Mobile and AT&T will also use the Verizon-owned antenna system. Sprint owns its own antenna system, which was installed in 2004, and has since been upgraded, reports the Chronicle.
January 31, 2017