University of Colorado (CU) and Colorado State University (CSU) Get Agile to Deploy DAS and Wi-Fi in Sport Stadiums —
The recent football and basketball season saw University of Colorado (CU) fans passionately texting, tweeting, and streaming videos about their Buffalos via a new Wi-Fi and cellular networks that could finally handle their sports enthusiasm.
While its incredibly picturesque location at the edge of the Rocky Mountains has historically made Folsom Field a fan-favorite place to visit, the lack of any comprehensive wireless coverage of any sort produced some grumbling from Buffs fans in recent years.
Neutral Connect Networks (NCN) used Cisco gear for the Wi-Fi network and JMA Wireless gear for the cellular networks. The networks are served by a central head-end room located in an old telephone PBX space near the center of campus. Fiber connections run through some existing tunnels from the campus’ old steam-heating infrastructure.
The Wi-Fi network used 550 APs in a mostly under-seat deployment at Folsom Field, since there are no overhangs over any of the seating areas. In addition, the flagpole-type structures NCN used had to match Folsom Field’s architectural heritage.
The deployment team had a long list of deployment challenges, mainly having to navigate the construction particulars of a stadium that had been gradually expanded and added onto over the years. “Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s behind a brick,” said NCN director of program management Bryan Courtney, speaking of existing infrastructure that has been around for decades.
A Slam Dunk
The same deal is bringing Wi-Fi and a cellular DAS to the school’s basketball arena.
At the 11,064-seat CU Events Center, formerly known as the Coors Events Center, deployment of both Wi-Fi and DAS is somewhat easier, as all the gear servicing the seating area is suspended from the catwalks. With the main concourse at stadium entry level and all the seats in a single rectangular bowl flowing down from there, the ceiling is close enough for good top-down coverage for both Wi-Fi and cellular.
Though deployment of both networks in the Events Center is currently underway, neither will be active until after the 2020 college basketball season is completed. That’s because the Events Center stays somewhat busier than the football stadium, with events like local high school graduations, and other special events, making use of the space. Still, both networks should be fully up and running by the next basketball season.
The business model embraced by all parties involved allows the school’s Wi-Fi and DAS networks to be built under a revenue-sharing deal with the school. Carriers helped with some with upfront payments. They will also provide payments over a long-term lease to operate on the DAS.
Rivals Get Fair Treatment
The company negotiated a similar neutral-host deal with CU’s neighbor to the north, Colorado State University, for CSU’s football stadium which opened in 2017. Now known as Canvas Stadium, the 41,000-seat venue had 419 total Wi-Fi access points when it opened, with approximately 250 of those used in the bowl seating area.
This article contains excerpts from “New Wi-Fi and DAS at Colorado’s Folsom Field”, the Stadium Tech Report, Spring 2019. The case study report is found on Connectivity Wireless’s website, in the Content hub. For more information, please visit https://content-hub.connectivitywireless.com/case-studies/folsom-field and https://connectivitywireless.com/services/neutralconnect/.