This decision comes as a result of last year’s Super Bowl when the permitted streaming was blocked eventually as too much bandwidth was taken up. She goes on to say that, “while we do know that people like to look at replays on their phones and there are some people who like to stream certain amounts of video in the game, the vast majority of our fans want to watch the game on the field, watch the replays on the jumbo board, and participate in the event more than they want to be checking their phone.”
Big games equal huge network usage.
The Wi-Fi network, during last year’s Super Bowl, stayed up even during the mid-game power outage that is infamous. A broadcast engineer that we spoke to measured the network at 44Mbps up and 23 Mbps down though some of those who attended told Ars, after the game, that the Wi-Fi access was at times problematic.
She further said that 25,000-30,000 concurrent internet users on the Wi-Fi and cellular can be handled by the 82,500 seat stadium. However, Verizon, that which led the cellular and Wi-Fi build-out preferred keeping this information secret thus the reason why NFL did not let it be known just what the anticipated speeds are. Prioritizing the upload speeds over download is the plan since a lot of time is spent on photo and status posting on the social media by the fans.
“While we could have made some of that available, it might have impacted the ability for the majority of the fans to be able to stay connected to social media, FaceBook, tweets and the like.”
The attendees are to be provided with a Super Bowl app, together with ‘exclusive content’ and an event guide; no replays or streaming video will be provided.
McKenna-Doyle noted that it is very common to find that uploading photos and sending text messages becomes almost impossible at high-density events. At key moments of each game is when the network congestion is at its peak. For instance, I was able to e-mail, text and upload photos during the game at last year’s final game of the World Series that was at Fenway Park in Boston. However, uploading a single photo was literally impossible after the final out as the network was completely swarmed by the fans.
McKenna-Doyle said that, “when you can’t do the basics, it’s all of a sudden not that cool that you can show replays or stream the game. It’s a fine balance. We’re pushing the envelope every year. As technology gets better and better, I’m willing to take more and more risks about what we allow.” She is quite optimistic that, as opposed to the unicast tech used presently, the amount of data that’s needed for video streaming at future Super Bowls will be limited by the multicast technology.
Fans kept connected.
Network video, Visionary Solutions, explain that, “a Unicast transmission/stream sends IP packets to a single recipient on a network. A multicast transmission sends IP packets to a group of hosts on a network.” McKenna-Doyle says that since the multicast streaming is not supported commonly on smart phones, it won’t be used at this year’s game.
“Each team manages every game themselves and they have mobile apps that they run. Some allow it based on their infrastructure and some block it”, says McKenna-Doyle. Live streaming is not blocked at every NFL game with regard to the Super Bowl restriction. For instance, access to the NFL Red Zone video is provided for in the New England Patriot’s app when a user is connected to the Gillette Stadium’s Wi-Fi network. “It depends on the stadium”, says McKenna-Doyle.
Monitoring user activity helps planning the capacity for future events and fixing problems as they arise. Technical problems that prevent fans from accessing the internet or hacker attacks on the network will be identified by the use of monitoring tools that the Super Bowl crew will put in use as is the norm. The network monitoring tools will divide the stadium into sectors and this year the stadium will be cut into many more sectors than ever before so that any issues that arise anywhere in the stadium are easily pinpointed out.
While it would be possible for a mobile app to have audio feeds, McKenna-Doyle notes that, “we’ve always given this radio for broadcast and fans have told us they really love it.” This is one of the niceties that the attendees are provided with; a radio that has four audio feeds from Westwood One, Fox, the in-stadium public address and ESPN Deportes.
She further states that, “If we start to hear that we’re having issues in a certain part, we can work on a smaller segment of the stadium without it impacting as many people.”
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