The struggle for Wi-Fi access is real. Or at least it was.
A $6 million renovation of Mile High Stadium’s Wi-Fi access technology will more than double its capacity for Denver Broncos fans wanting to post social media updates and brag about their location on game days. For the past six years, only customers of Verizon could access the Wi-Fi, leaving thousands of fans (roughly half of the people in attendance) frustrated — a point that was repeatedly expressed on fan surveys.
Up until now, we’ve been a Verizon hotspot, so we’ve opened up another wireless SSID for the remaining fans to be able to access our Wi-Fi system, which should more than double our user count on game day,” said Domenico D’Ambrosio, president of Verizon’s North Central Market.
The improvements include installation of four times as many wireless antennas as there were previously, as well as triple the number of access points from Cisco Systems — which use 802.11ac Wave 2 technology and are hidden in hand railings and in orange boxes under seats, generally increasing both the capacity and the internet speed, to the tune of 5.0 gigahertz.
“We’re trying to do an access point per 40 fans … so it’s much higher density. It’s all about getting a small cell bubble to cover less amount of people,” said Russ Trainor, the Broncos’ vice president of information technology.
The Broncos are sharing the $6 million cost of the upgrade with Verizon and the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, but even with Verizon helping to foot the bill, fans using any wireless carrier (as long as they have a compatible device) will now be able to access the internet. In order to use the free Wi-Fi, non-Verizon customers will be required to simply submit an email address or log on to Facebook, while Verizon customers will be automatically connected.
There can be up to 64,000 concurrent connections that will have a good experience. It’ll be just like at home, with no lag and no issues,” Jason Moore, a Broncos senior IT engineer, told The Denver Post. “The top cap of the old system of concurrent users was around 49,000.”
The stadium seats 76,000 people.
Installation of the new upgraded system is currently in progress and should already offer fans a noticeable improvement in time for the Broncos’ season opener on Monday, September 11. It’s scheduled to be completed by November at the latest.