Super Bowl LII made history not for what happened on the field, but for data usage during the game. Here’s how much data fans used tweeting, texting and instagramming during the big game — and how the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis created a standout system to handle the game-day internet traffic.
Super Bowl Data Usage by the Numbers
Data usage at major sporting events has been increasing annually. In 2016, Super Bowl fans gobbled up 10.1 TB of total data during the game, played in Santa Clara, CA — an increase of 46 percent from the year before. In 2017, Super Bowl data usage climbed to 11.8 TB.
This year, Super Bowl fans used a whopping 16.3 TB of data, setting a new global record for data usage in a single day — despite the fact that 6,000 fewer football fans fit inside the Minneapolis stadium than attended the 2017 Super Bowl LI, which was held in Houston.
Altogether, 40,033 unique individuals, representing 59 percent of the game-day audience, used WiFi from the game. The largest concurrent connection — or the most number of individuals using WiFi at once — was 25,670.
Data transfer peaked at 7.867 Gbps at the event.
As the data shows, a majority of fans are engaging with their smartphones during major sporting events. Going forward, stadium operators in all sports must think about WiFi availability to enhance the game experience.
So, how did U.S. Bank Stadium accommodate record-breaking traffic? It prepared in advance, leveraged best-in-class technology, and hoped — a hope that was borne out and will be replicated next year, when the Minneapolis stadium plays host to the NCAA Basketball Final Four.
There’s an AmpThink-designed network at Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium which uses Cisco WiFi equipment. U.S. Bank Stadium began planning its WiFi system years before Super Bowl LII, turning to AmpThink, Cisco and Verizon Wireless, who built the WiFi network inside the stadium.
Speed tests on the WiFi network showed 40 to 50-plus Mbps speeds throughout the stadium, with a peak download speed of 85 Mbps in one area. Game-day crowds and peak users slowed traffic, but pre-testing during the playoffs revealed solid network performance throughout the 66,655-seat stadium.
Nearly three quarters of stadium fans enter through a single gate (the west gate), which places a strain on the stadium’s wireless capacity at that gate. To streamline connectivity, Verizon Wireless increased DAS antennas in the stadium by 48 percent. Extra DAS antennas were concentrated on the west and east end zones, which improved connectivity near the west gate.
CenturyLink delivers bandwidth to the stadium through 1,200 WiFi access points and 6 always-active 10-Gbps pipes, which run on separate network infrastructures for redundancy. This lets U.S. Bank Stadium boost bandwidth in under one minute when major crowds are expected.
Super Bowl LII marked the first big test for railing-mounted WiFi — designed by AmpThink — which is camouflaged inside silver handrail enclosures throughout the stadium. The railing-mounted design allows fans to connect to a nearby AP. They enjoy faster connection, and the burden of connectivity is spread around the stadium, so no connection is overwhelmed by high usage.
This was an exciting game not only for the Eagles’ big win but for the technological feats inside the stadium.
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