MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When fans flood into U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4, the Super Bowl excitement is guaranteed to be shared.
And when they do it will total multiple terabytes worth of cellphone texts and calls, photographs and videos.
Diana Scudder, executive director of network assurance for Verizon, knows that consumer’s appetite for cellphone data continues to grow.
More than 11 terabytes of data was consumed by Verizon’s customers at Super Bowl LI in Houston last year.
It is expected that fans attending the Super Bowl in Minneapolis will easily surpass that amount of data usage, making necessary the huge investment in communications technology at U.S. Bank Stadium.
A major part of that is the vast array of 1,200 cellphone antennas strategically placed throughout the stadium. It is called a Distributed Antenna System, or DAS.
Each individual antenna is placed and disguised in the hand and drink rails underneath stadium seating and along the walls. Some are obvious – most are not.
Scudder said in just a year, Vikings fans have more than doubled the amount of voice and digital data being consumed at games.
For every cell call made and text or digital image sent, the data must be routed through the antenna network and into what Verizon calls “The Head Room,” which is a collection of large banks of routers, wires and radios to send the information on its way through an endless web of fiber cables.
“It’s the brains of the system,” Scudder said.
The room is hidden away far from the action of fans or players, and is highly secured. It is also staffed by technicians anytime there is a stadium event, to assure everything operates without problems.
“It then routes [data] to our remote radio heads in this aisle, then over to our base station equipment in this aisle, and then finally over to our routers and out to the world,” Scudder said.
Team coaches and the media covering the game will also consume vast amounts of data. That is why Verizon installed a first-of-its-kind Matsing Ball antenna, which 300 feet high above the field. The two round spheres will route calls and digital data flowing from the sidelines.
Verizon believes it is the first such inside installation anywhere inside a National Football League stadium.
“Based on the amount of usage that continues to grow and grow and grow as data volume increases, we engineered U.S. Bank Stadium to be able to support that demand for Super Bowl,” Scudder said.
And that will assure anyone in attendance the speed and clarity demanded to capture and share every super moment.