Jan 31 2014

NFL Boosts Wireless Ahead of Super Bowl, but Blocks Mobile Video

In order to accommodate the technology needs of everyone at the big game, the NFL CIO had to prioritize bandwidth.

Wireless Internet is seen as a utility by many, and if the NFL has its way, fans will be able to check in, tweet and Instagram to their hearts' content at the upcoming Super Bowl game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

The pressure to deliver on fans’ expectations is a top priority for NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle. During a recent event with Extreme Networks at NFL headquarters, she said fans expect reliable wireless connectivity as much as they “expect a good bathroom.”

Speaking to NY1, McKenna-Doyle elaborated on some of the wireless upgrades that have been made at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey specifically, where Super Bowl XLVIII will be played.

“A lot has been done over the last year,” McKenna-Doyle says. “We've upgraded both the DAS, distributed antenna system, a whole new LTE infrastructure, as well as a brand new Wi-Fi, taking advantage of the new high-density applications that are out on the market now.”

However, one of the things that fans won’t be able do at the Super Bowl is stream mobile video on their devices. Streaming mobile video eats up precious bandwidth, and it’s a minor use case for in-stadium fans as the vast majority simply want access to social media, she says in an article with Ars Technica.

McKenna-Doyle’s decision isn’t informed by theory, it comes from firsthand experience with the intense bandwidth consumption that mobile video requires.

“We [blocked] it last year, but we did it on the fly when we started having some challenges. This year we planned ahead to do it,” McKenna-Doyle said. “While we could have made some [mobile streaming] available, it might have impacted the ability for the majority of the fans to be able to stay connected to social media, tweet, Facebook, that kind of thing.”

So there you have it, football fans. If you’re planning to attend the game in person, your mobile devices are welcome, but the bandwidth-hogging streaming videos will have to wait outside.

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