Network Performance Brings A-Game to Texas A&M’s Stadium

By: James O'Brien| - Leave a comment

A new survey of sports stadium technology shows that Kyle Field at Texas A&M University far outpaces comparable facilities in terms of network performance. Its Wi-Fi and distributed antenna system shows consistent download speeds of 40 to 60-plus Mbps — and that’s on game days.

Mobile Sports Report’s newest College Football Issue, part of its Stadium Tech Report series, featured the study. On the day it measured Kyle Field’s network load, MSR measured it at 2.94 TB. The stadium has reportedly seen Wi-Fi usage soar to 5.7 TB in months prior. And while Kyle Field will likely never face championship game-level bandwidth demand, the facility stood out for network performance among other stadiums at schools that included Kansas State University, the University of Mississippi and Oklahoma University.

The lifeblood of Kyle Field’s system is an optical network, which starts at an off-site, direct-attached storage (DAS) head end and then pairs with 1,300 access points in the stadium. More than half of the access points have underseat placement, further boosting in-house performance.

Without room on-site to put the warehouse-sized structure, the DAS head end is located a little over three miles from Kyle Field. Potential latency due to the off-site location is mitigated by the speed of optical fiber, according to officials on the project. As Texas A&M pointed out to MSR, the head end’s remote site also allows for future expansion without compromising needed stadium space.

Inside Kyle Field, the optical fiber connects to a subterranean, temperature-controlled network gear nexus. The indoor DAS is designed to take on a maximum user load of 100,000 connections and still work at 2 Mbps. Since stadium capacity is some 102,000, the ceiling for the DAS could support almost every individual in the facility connecting at once at those levels. On an average day, Kyle Field logs connections at around 25,000, MSR reported.

Built with the assistance of vendors including IBM, Corning, Aruba and AmpThink, the Kyle Field deployment was not cheap. Part of a $485 million renovation, according to Sports Illustrated, MSR pegged the Wi-Fi redo price tag at some $20 million. Half the cost, however, was supported by Verizon and AT&T.

The next steps for Kyle Field’s tech profile may include a stadium app, which could potentially connect attendees to maps, vendor updates, parking information and ticketing.

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About The Author

James O'Brien

Freelance Writer

As a journalist and writer in the branded content space, James O'Brien covers business, technology, social media, marketing, film, food, wine, writing and news. The Nieman Journalism Lab has called his work in the custom content space "sponsored content done right." He has written for major regional newspapers, and he has managed and edited established, startup and turnaround newsrooms in varied markets, from community papers to major-city dailies. He consults for firms and businesses — startups to seasoned — on the creation of effective content strategies and the establishment of practical editorial calendars for enacting them. O'Brien holds a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from the Editorial Institute at Boston University, where he researched and edited Bob Dylan's other-than-song writings. He is engaged in a bibliography for Oxford University Press, covering writings about filmmaker John Cassavetes. He is the author of "The Indie Writer's Survival Guide." His short stories and poetry are published in numerous journals and magazines.

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