Reaching for Gold with DAS in London

Reaching for Gold with DAS in London

By Andrew BergWednesday, July 25, 2012

We all know the aggravation associated with trying to place a call or even a send a text at a major sporting event.

That’s why “mega-events” like the Super Bowl and now the Olympics in London, which begin Friday, are trying to alleviate some of the frustrations associated with poor service at venues by planning well in advance.

Joseph Rizzo, founder of Rizzo Consulting, helped design the in-building distributed antenna systems (DAS) for Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center, the location of last year’s Super Bowl events. The Olympics represents a similar challenge to those venues, he said.

“The Super Bowl is almost a mini Olympics…but on a much grander scale,” Rizzo said.

For the Super Bowl, Rizzo Consulting used specialized modeling software from iBwave, provider of a core software platform for designing in-building wireless networks, including the past two Super Bowls and now the 2012 Olympics.

Scott Pereira, global sales engineering director for iBwave, said the Olympics are unique in one very challenging way when it comes to DAS systems.

“You have a lot of international roamers, whereas at the Super Bowl, sure there will be some international travelers, but the Olympics are all about people from all over the world, so there’s a huge revenue generation opportunity for the carriers during the games,” he said.

Rizzo said more international roamers shouldn’t change the basics of DAS deployment, as attendees will roam on local networks. Carriers here in the United States usually share the costs of in-building DAS systems, as a single system can support multiple carrier networks.

“In the United States for the Super Bowl there were three carriers involved with that in-building DAS,” Rizzo said. For the Olympics, Rizzo and Pereira estimate there will be around five carriers involved.

Designing a system that accommodates a number of carriers is no easy task, even when you start designing that system 18 months in advance of an event, as Rizzo Consulting did for the Super Bowl.

Rizzo said that the carriers worked together in that instance, and modeling software like iBwave’s allowed his team to tweak and change things before providers have to consider running fiber or mounting an antenna.

Rizzo said another challenge inherent in designing systems for large stadiums is ensuring coverage at all levels of what is essentially a big bowl.

“Seating is laid out at incredible angels so everyone can see the field, and it makes it really difficult to install antennas in locations where you can easily provide a nice clean coverage to a specific area. So I think that would be one of the main design challenges,” Rizzo said.

These mega events prompt the installation of DAS systems, which are seen as long-term investments, so fans will benefit from Super Bowl and Olympic deployments long after those high-profile events are over and done with.

Rizzo said that wireless service and devices are fundamentally changing the way people view the stadium experience. He said that more data is uploaded to the network than downloaded, indicating that fans want to share what their seeing with the rest of the world. But they also want to get online for specifics about the game they’re watching, he said.

“The owners of these stadiums are embracing that, and they’re providing individuals with the ability to download a replay on their device. If you don’t see it enough times on the JumboTron, you can replay it on your smartphone…It’s really making it more of an interactive experience,” Rizzo said.

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