Designing a Successful Wi-Fi Solutions Game Plan for Super Bowl LV

Ryan Hall Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 1 Feb 2021

For the 8th consecutive year, Extreme Networks – The Official Wi-Fi Solutions Provider of the NFL – is supporting the Wi-Fi solutions needs at this year’s Super Bowl, by delivering high-density Wi-Fi connectivity and pervasive network analytics for fans, supporting staff, and event operations.  Learn more in the blog post below.

We made it.  It’s actually happening: the stage is set to host Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, FL.  

Despite the unavoidable challenges, complexities, and uncertainties, the NFL successfully completed the ’20 – ‘21 regular season and playoffs with only minor hiccups along the way – a welcome silver lining of positivity and enjoyment in what was truly a bleak year otherwise.

Just like the unique circumstances of this year’s NFL season, Super Bowl LV will be unlike its predecessors.  The new and elevated challenges inherent at this year’s Big Game will require each supporting function to operate smoothly – including the in-stadium Wi-Fi solution and IT infrastructure.

That said, let’s review the Wi-Fi solutions game plan for Super Bowl LV.  

Offense: Purposely Designed, Robust Connectivity  

On offense, it’s about designing a purpose-built game plan that takes all the surrounding factors into consideration and leverages the strengths of the team.  The Wi-Fi game plan for Super Bowl LV is similar.  The NFL has announced this year’s Super Bowl will host approximately 22,000 fans; while designing an in-stadium Wi-Fi solution for a full capacity stadium is a challenge, configuring that Wi-Fi solution to meet the fan-facing and business-facing connectivity needs in a limited capacity stadium is even more challenging.  Implementing high-density Wi-Fi solutions requires careful RF channel planning, designed to meet the usage demands of a full-capacity venue (especially for an event like the Super Bowl); a limited capacity venue introduces unpredictability and another level of complexity.   

Extreme’s Sports & Public Venues team has designed and deployed Wi-Fi for 12 NFL stadiums, all of which have unique physical characteristics and business needs.  Utilizing this experience and expertise – and working closely with League and team-level counterparts – Extreme’s Wi-Fi Architects and Solution Engineers have methodically fine-tuned the supporting Wi-Fi solution at this year’s host venue: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, FL.  Over 1,500 wireless APs are installed at the Super Bowl Stadium to deliver fast, secure connectivity to ensure everyone wins on game day.      

Defense: Digitizing Event Operations for Safety and Convenience

An effective defensive game plan proactively mitigates risk and potential game-changing disruptions; the defensive Wi-Fi network game plan for Super Bowl LV does just that by helping to provide a safe, convenient, quality experience for fans and the supporting event staff.  Recent events undoubtedly created new and heightened challenges for live sports, but it also acted as a catalyst for digital transformation – which will ultimately further augment the in-stadium experience for fans moving forward.

On that note, Super Bowl LV will be the first Super Bowl where all tickets will be mobile.  Given the potential benefits for the League, the individual clubs, and its fans, the NFL had already launched a top-down initiative to exclusively migrate to mobile tickets.  Super Bowl LV is an excellent opportunity to build upon this endeavor.  Not only is mobile ticketing more convenient and seamless, it minimizes physical touchpoints for improved health and safety in-stadium.  According to Peter O’Reilly, Executive VP of Club Business and League Events, “[mobile ticketing] is clearly safer…we got a touchless experience and the ability to communicate with fans is that much stronger as you lead up to the game, and make sure they understand all the protocols [via] push notifications and others.” From an IT network perspective, providing Wi-Fi connectivity to fans as they enter and traverse the stadium is critical to easily and securely access digital tickets. 

Special Teams: Network-Driven Mobile Engagement Analytics 

The special teams game plan can be a serious x-factor. When strategically utilized to gain a competitive edge, the special teams unit has the ability to drastically influence the outcome on game day.  For the Wi-Fi network game plan, special teams represents access to network-driven insights and analytics surrounding in-stadium Wi-Fi and network usage.  This actionable intelligence helps the NFL and its clubs better understand the mobile usage patterns and preferences of their fanbase – not only at key events like the Super Bowl but also across various NFL markets and teams. 

Access to real-time and historical data like this can be used to monitor the growth/evolution of Wi-Fi usage, deliver more personalized experiences to fans, and make more informed decisions in support of an overarching digital strategy – including investment in mobile, applications, and more.  This is the 8th year Extreme Networks is the Official Wi-Fi Analytics Provider of the Super Bowl; 25 NFL teams have ExtremeAnalytics deployed at their stadium.  Last year’s Super Bowl saw record-breaking Wi-Fi usage, in both the amount of data transferred via Wi-Fi (26.42 TBs) and the average network usage per connected device (595.6 MBs).  Since the NFL is planning for a limited capacity stadium this Super Bowl, it’s unlikely the total data transferred will surpass last year’s number, but it will surely be interesting to dig into the analytics regardless.      

Related Resources

For more information on how Extreme Networks works with the NFL, digitized operations for live sports, and more, check out the related resources below:

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