A “Slam Dunk” Network for NCAA® Men’s Final Four®

April 04, 2017
By Scott Mair

I always look forward to March. Year after year, I’m glued to the TV – can’t miss a single moment. And sharing those moments with friends and family is what matters most.

This March Madness® consumed fans nationwide with every buzzer beater and rivalry showdown. And like any good team, we had a game plan of our own: provide a seamless wireless experience for fans at this year’s NCAA® Men’s Final Four®.1 And it was a slam dunk.

For the past year, our team worked to boost our network for the thousands of fans ready to cheer on their team courtside in Phoenix. From game time at the stadium to the festivals and concerts downtown, we boosted coverage across Phoenix with temporary and permanent network enhancements.

Where we come in.

New technologies and apps are giving fans more ways to enjoy Final Four games—and more ways to share it on social media from their seats.

To handle the increase in mobile data usage, we’ve upgraded our network roster with an all-star lineup. This includes an upgraded Distributed Antenna System (DAS) at the stadium and 2 Cell on Wheels (COWs) equipped with the Luneburg Lens or “Giant Eyeball Antenna” – the highest capacity antenna in our fleet.

With the influx of fans traveling to Phoenix from across the U.S., we expected to see massive data usage on our network. And we weren’t disappointed. Fans ran up the mobile scoreboard during the Final Four at the stadium in Phoenix.

Massive Data Usage.2

  • At the stadium, total data usage equaled more than 6.4TB on Saturday and Monday. 6.4TB is enough for 18M Final Four selfies.
  • Total data usage from the games, concerts and events from Friday, March 31 to Monday, April 3 in Phoenix was more than 10.5TB. That’s enough data to check college basketball scores and news on the web for 80 years without stopping.
  • Across all 13 March Madness® venues, we saw more than 11.6TB of data on our mobile network on game days from March 14 to March 26.4 That’s equal to streaming more than 2K college basketball games5 with HD video.
  • Over the last 6 NCAA® Men’s Final Four® tournaments (2012 vs. 2017), total data usage on AT&T’s venue-specific mobile network alone has increased more than 1000%.

With the final seconds on the clock, basketball fans should only worry about cheering louder than the opposing team, not a bad connection. That’s why we’ll continue upgrading our network at stadiums across the country to be better, stronger and more seamless for our customers on and off the court.

Footnotes:

1 NCAA, Final Four and March Madness are official trademarks of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

2 All figures include only data traffic from AT&T Mobility customers on AT&T’s venue-specific mobile network for men’s March Madness games.

3 AT&T is a Corporate Champion of the NCAA.

4 All data metrics come only from venues with a DAS where AT&T’s mobile network is on-air.

5 Estimated length of game is 2 hours.

Scott Mair - Senior Vice President of Network Planning and Engineering

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