Sports Stadium Wi-Fi Use Case

The Challenge

Stadiums today are like mini-cities with thousands of people, devices and connected wireless equipment such as mobile POS and e-ticketing, all requiring reliable connectivity at the same time. It is probably one of the most complex and demanding environments for Wi-Fi where typical legacy vendors have struggled immensely with the high-density and network capacity demands of today’s venues as the standard enterprise designed equipment they deploy at an arena or stadium is not effective. Standard enterprise access points were simply never designed to meet the challenge of High Density, they were designed to meet the needs of an office where clients might be 15ft apart, not in hundreds of seats next to each other. It means that even when thousands of standard access points are deployed to try to provide the capacity, the problem moves to one of severe interference, degrading the quality of the user connected experience as well as dramatically increasing the cost.

Wi-Fi is now a huge asset for optimizing game-day operations and enabling in-stadium fans experience with full connectivity and unrestricted use of their mobile devices. A unified and robust network with Wi-Fi equipment that is designed to deliver in these tough environments helps support not only mission-critical business functions but also the advancement of digital marketing initiatives.

Digital marketing is something that venues are increasingly requesting, but the truth is that without a robust network, the user experience can be frustrating and negative. It means all that great fan data and new services go unutilized, leaving a poor taste in the mouth for the fan and a loss of revenue opportunity for the venue.

And it’s not only legacy Wi-Fi vendors that struggle with designing effective systems for stadiums and arenas, cellular operators also struggle with the enormous amount of data that their customers are consuming whilst at an event; video streaming, social networking, photo sharing etc. It all adds stress to an already struggling network designed for voice. Now, this data demand can be effective, and cost-efficiently managed through the Wi-Fi network. That’s why mobile network operators are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi to complement their cellular services, providing a new monetization stream for Wi-Fi and the venue owner.

It’s no wonder that venues are insisting on robust Wi-Fi networks, ones that don’t just work when the stadium is empty but perform when they’re full and are at a cost that is economic for the business. As Wi-Fi has moved to a business-critical issue as well as a fan experience one, it can no longer be left to chance.

The Solution

Everest was designed from the ground up to solve the problems of High Density. Whereas a standard enterprise AP connects just 25 to 30 client devices per AP, with Everest you can connect 400. It simply means we manage more people in more confined spaces than anyone else, and we do it more efficiently as our patented technology provides more bandwidth and capacity to individual clients, even in noisy RF environments like NFL stadiums with 60,000 smartphones, 2ft from each other, all trying to send their data over the air. What we saw when we designed Everest was a Wi-Fi industry that was using the enterprise access points they had, as best as they could, instead of rethinking their approach to Access Point (AP) design and scalable network architectures to meet the data capacity crunch that is the root cause of high-density problems today. More devices per person, more data per device.

Legacy vendor’s system designs are typically ones that have 1,000s of APs deployed under seats or in handrails. As anyone that has ever sat a couple of seats away from an AP located under a seat will testify, this is fine if you’re the one sitting above the AP. But human bodies are like a bag of potatoes, full of water and very absorbing of RF energy and the body attenuation resulting from fans sitting over the APs means that the signal very quickly fades, providing poor service to the other surrounding users.

  • Multi-Radio Platform
  • Fully Isolated Radios
  • Leverage existing data center infrastructure; No Need for specialized hardware

  • Multiple directional antennas packed into a single Access Point
  • Advanced mil-spec hardware to reduce interference
  • Improves the gain and reduces noise

  • Software steerable antennas
  • Artificial Intelligence to direct user coverage

Using our technology the RF energy arrives over the air above you, unhindered by human bodies but specifically directed to cover the area you’re sat in. Unimpeded. Everest is able to do this, even at a long-range, providing service to fans hundreds of feet away from the AP. Not only that, but our dual polarity beams and SpotLight technology enables Everest to provide the highest throughput and all-important speed, both in the upload and download direction, removing the fan frustration as they try to post that all-important photo to share their unique experience with friends and family. Furthermore, Everest approach to design and deploy access points not only improves the wireless connectivity, it also decreases the number of installed access points and the cost of installing each access point due to the absence of core drilling and the ease of overhead installation. Those savings can amount up to a 3X decrease in the Wi-Fi infrastructure TCO.

Once you have a good Wi-Fi system in place you can then start to improve the fan experience and monetize the network asset. In the past, Wi-Fi was considered a free service, and it still is to the fan, but what is possible now for the venue owner is three major streams of new revenue:

  • Fan engagement applications and services
  • Digital Marketing
  • Carrier Off-Load

Fan engagement applications and services have come a long way over the last few years as teams and owners have tried and field-tested different services. This has led to not just a better fan experience but to services such as e-ticketing, seat resales, removal of cash from car parking services to reduce shrinkage; and of course, the increased beer sales. In addition, what this has provided the venue is a valuable database of customers. Venues then have a way to continue to provide information and offers to these most loyal of customers, not just when they visit the venue, but throughout the whole year. Everest’s network management system provides a lot of data analytics, but we also have open APIs that third-party partners utilize to pull data for the services they support. It makes the whole system extremely flexible.

At the same time as the improvement in the fan engagement applications, we have also seen the move by carriers to utilize the Wi-Fi network for cellular data. As new industry standards such as HotSpot 2.0 or Passpoint have matured, carriers now see the economic benefit of off-loading to W i-Fi thanks to the improved quality of service. Many operators will have preprogrammed SSIDs in the ones they sell meaning when a phone is in the vicinity of a Wi-Fi network broadcasting the SSID, the phone will start to connect and utilize the Wi-Fi. It’s much more cost-effective to pay for Wi-Fi off-load than it is to upgrade the cellular network. At Everest, we are in the high-density areas where this economic advantage to carrier off-load on Wi-Fi is seen most. With our multi-radio platform, we can also provide the service much more effectively than others, providing that high-level QoS operators seek. In fact, you could even assign the radio resource to the SSID if that was required, guaranteeing a pre-agreed level of service.

When you combine all of the revenue generation and operational improvements with the reduced cost of installation that Everest delivers due to the reduced AP count and the overhead install, it makes talking with your CFO and owner about upgrading your network a much easier conversation.

Innovation in Wi-FI

Innovations are found at the core of our APs from the inside out. Firstly, to satisfy the capacity requirements, multiple radios are embedded within each AP absorbing 2-3 times as many devices as an enterprise-grade AP. Furthermore, the radios can operate independently and concurrently providing a tremendous amount of throughput specially under heavy traffic demand during half-time shows or main concert acts. Secondly, our software-driven directional coverage provides antenna beam reconfigurability to direct energy onto specific narrow areas while simultaneously rejecting signals from other areas enabling macro-level radio coverage zone control and interference management. In this manner and for an industry first, our APs provide flexible coverage options at farther distances to multi-sized seating sections. Thirdly, our APs are fully integrated into one IP-67 enclosure with no external cables and connectors, reducing potential failure points and simplifying installations.

The Result

Everest has been installed at Lincoln Financial Field, home of 2018 Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles since 2017. The first full season with Everest deployed was exceptional for both Everest and the Eagles. Eagles went on to win Super Bowl 2018 and Everest Wi-Fi continued to smash industry records for performance, culminating in the NFC championship game where a massive 8.76 TB of data was transferred. Since then, Everest has maintained the #1 spot for data transferred at a regular NFL game, achieving 10.86 TB of data in September 2018 (MSR Top 10 for Wi-Fi, Everest solution has also been deployed in several large arenas providing fast connectivity to both sport and concert fans from the last row in the upper bowl to the screaming fans in front of the stage. Those deployments have been done in just a few days, avoiding any disruption to the busy venue schedule.

In today’s sports environments the data transferred in the Upload and Download is generally equal with the speed of both impacting the fan experience as they check their social media, watch live video of competing games, and generally post their photos and videos. Everest consistently delivers speeds over 35 Mbps in both directions, across all the seating service area, not just to the person sitting on the AP.

In today’s sports environments the data transferred in the Upload and Download is generally equal with the speed of both impacting the fan experience as they check their social media, watch live video of competing games, and generally post their photos and videos. Everest consistently delivers speeds over 35 Mbps in both directions, across all the seating service area, not just to the person sitting on the AP.

All this was done using a significantly reduced number of APs compared to a legacy vendor. To try and reach the capacity requirements of a large stadium, a legacy vendor has to deploy close to a 1,000 APs. Not only is this expensive for the hardware, but it is also significantly more expensive to install as it generally entails the drilling of concrete to connect the AP, which means a significant manpower cost to fit them all. Not to mention the damage caused to the building fabric from all that drilling of holes. No wonder it takes about 8-months to install.

With Everest, we install just 200 APs in a typical stadium, providing a superior Wi-Fi service in less time and at a much-reduced install cost. All this drives the TCO down by at least 3X. The same is true in an arena where Everest deploys significantly less hardware, with less on-site disruption, driving the system cost down to a more economic level.

Everest has also integrated with third-party applications such as Purple, Kiana, Green Zebra etc. These companies are providing the additional application and marketing services venues wants to help improve the fan engagement and further monetize the network. It’s a real win-win-win. Quite often, when the IT budget is not sufficient to support an upgrade, it is the marketing team that recognizes the benefits of a Wi-Fi network built to support these new fan services, data marketing applications, and social viral marketing.

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