When you visit a sports arena, do you have trouble getting a cell signal or commenting on a big play through social media? That has been a common lament for many fans, including me, for years.
But that wasn't the case for spectators at this month's NCAA Men's Final Four Basketball Tournament in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. They had sufficient bandwidth to share photos and videos of the experience through social media, thanks to the rollout of a new Cisco Connected Stadium Wi-Fi network. The arena, home to the Atlanta Falcons, completed the deployment just before the start of the 2012 NFL season.
The World Congress Center Authority, which operates the stadium, had long planned the project to enhance the fan experience. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to upload a photo or check stats and fail, notes Sam Brown, IT director for the Georgia Dome. Blanketing the facility with wireless coverage enables the NFL to reach out and connect with fans in new ways, such as through a YinzCam in-game app available only to those inside the stadium.
"Our Wi-Fi infrastructure is simply the highway that will allow immediate access to all and will facilitate the flow of traffic," says Carl Adkins, general manager of the Georgia Dome.
Determining how many people will be on the network at any point in time and what level of usage they required was the challenge, says Mike Krummrey, a senior network engineer for CDW•G, which performed the site survey through configuration. The Georgia Dome solved coverage concerns by selecting specialized wireless equipment from Cisco, which uses high-density access points and antennas to establish micro cells that target specific seats and sections.
The Georgia Dome purchased Cisco licensing for 14,000 concurrent users, most of whom tap the wireless network to tweet, browse the web and share Instagram photos, says Brown. He foresees increasing the number of licenses as usage expands. For more details about the deployment, read How Georgia Dome's Stadium-Grade Wi-Fi Supports the Ultimate BYOD Project.
With clear wireless coverage, the picture is a good one indeed.