Network Performance Brings A-Game to Texas A&M’s Stadium
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.
Image Source: Flickr