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How Verizon Prepares for the First 4G LTE Super Bowl in Indianapolis (Video)



Nothing stresses a network like a major event, and it doesn’t get much bigger than the Super Bowl. In order to prepare for the estimated 85,000 people who will descend on the Lucas Oil Stadium for Super Bowl 46 Verizon has pumped a significant part of 69 million dollars into ensuring a reliable and fast cell network.

This is the first 4G LTE Super Bowl, which means that Lucas Oil Stadium and downtown Indianapolis is packed to the rafters with the latest 4G LTE antennas and technology. In addition to the stadium, Verizon has upgraded the network in 30 downtown venues.

Lucas Oil Stadium Verizon 4G LTE Super Bowl 46

Verizon has packed Lucas Oil Stadium with 4G LTE for Super Bowl 46.

Verizon invited GottaBeMobile on a tour of the “most wired” stadium in the NFL, to see exactly what goes into delivering speeds fast enough to watch the Super Bowl on your phone, while you are at the game. From 3G to 4G LTE and even WiFi, Verizon has put together an impressive network.

Behind the Scenes of Super Bowl 46 with Verizon

What Does the Network Need to Handle?

The average Colts game draws 70,000 people, but the Super Bowl is expected to bring in 85,000. Much of this increase will be in the form of high demand users such as press and team staff.

Verizon has built this enhanced 4G LTE network to handle 2.5 times the traffic of a normal Colts game.

Verizon needs to handle the increased voice and data needs inside the stadium and throughout the downtown area, as well as at the Super Bowl practice field where Verizon has deployed a COW to handle the increased needs of teams and team staff.

Verizon Network Upgrades for Super Bowl 46

Verizon has deployed a mixture of solutions throughout the Lucas Oil Stadium to make sure that you can talk, text and surf on game day.

  • 9 Antennas that are part of a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) outside the stadium to handle increased downtown traffic.
  • 400 Antenna Internal DAS to handle 3G and 4G LTE voice and data inside the stadium.
  • 600 Antenna WiFi system capable of handling 28,000 simultaneous connected users. Free for Super Bowl 46.
  • 3 Cell on Wheels (COWs). Stand alone generator powered cell towers to handle the extremely high demand areas.
Verizon 4G LTE COW for Super Bowl 46

This COW adds network support for Super Bowl 46.

In order to understand the needs of a network during the Super Bowl, Verizon sent a team down to the Dallas Cowboy’s stadium during Super Bowl 45 to understand all the logistics involved in supporting this many users. Based on these findings, and the team’s experience with the Indy 500 and Kentucky Derby, Verizon put a plan in place, beginning work in February of 2011.

The Verizon engineers have set up the system so that as you walk up the steps to go into the Lucas il Stadium your phone will switch from the exterior DAS to the internal DAS.

By avoiding RF pollution and spillover you won’t have dead zone issues. During our tour, I was impressed with how well the network handled data while in the bowels of the stadium and as I walked out of the stadium.

While in the stadium, I was able to get an amazing 4G LTE data speed, which I was assured was real. Granted this is the result of an empty stadium and almost 69 million worth of network upgrades, but damn that’s fast.

4G LTE Speed Test Super Fast - Super Bowl

4G LTE is Super Fast Under the Right Conditions

What Will Verizon Do On Game Day?

During the Super Bowl, Verizon will have five Test Men and Test Women walking the stadium with a small backpack testing device. Teh size of a larger camera bag, this setup can measure the network performance during the game.

These Verizon Testers can relay information to the on site personnel and to the Verizon Super Bowl Command Center, where experts can adjust network power to compensate for increased needs and game day surprises.

What Happens After the Super Bowl?

Internal DAS - 4G LTE Super Bowl 46

One set of 4G LTE antennas.

The best part about this upgrade is that almost everything will be left behind. When the game is over, Verizon will drive the COWs off to handle network needs in other locations, but the network upgrades to the downtown area will be left in place.

This includes the internal and external Distributed Antenna Systems, in-stadium WiFi and the improvements to downtown venus.

Thanks to Verizon Wireless for the behind the scene’s look at the Lucas Oil Stadium.

COW Image via Alan Petersime for Verizon Wireless

Updated to reflect more accurate amount of dollars spent.



  1. IndyUser

    01/20/2012 at 9:33 am

    Too bad its not working. I live in Indy and own a 4G phone and they have had problems with the 4g since Christmas. I’m staring at my phone now where it is showing an error trying to connect to the 4G network.

  2. Anonymous

    01/20/2012 at 1:05 pm

    The big question is what are they going to do with all that crap once the game is over? 

    • Wet Monkey

      01/20/2012 at 2:09 pm

      The last paragraph indicates they will leave it there. 

  3. MHazell

    01/22/2012 at 8:33 am

    That’s great. Now they need to set up WiFi stations that are to say in my area. That would be great.

  4. Henry

    01/22/2012 at 2:27 pm

    Who are the vendors for the wifi network? Cisco? Who is the vendor for the DAS? Wilson?

    • Anonymous

      01/22/2012 at 5:06 pm

      The backhaul is probably routed through some Fujitsu 9500 switches.

  5. YousufAli Moiz

    01/23/2012 at 7:56 am

    How many Sectors & BTS are deployed to support the 85000 people. If you can gpo in detail will be interesteing to see the design. Please email me on [email protected].
    Thanks & best regards

  6. MG

    01/23/2012 at 12:12 pm

    So the way I understand this is that the only people who are going to benefit from this are verizon customers.. They should just call it the Verizon Bowl this year.. I know im propbrobly worng but reading every sing word this is wha it sounds like.

    • Dageeko

      02/01/2012 at 6:54 am

      As the article says…The WiFi system is NOT just for Verizon customers…

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