Super Bowl 53 is this week in InTown Legal’s hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), home of the Falcons, will host its first Super Bowl on February 3, 2019. WSB-TV reports that 70,000 fans are expected to fill the stadium for the big game and about a million people are expected to participate in the various festivities surrounding the Super Bowl.
When people think about the impact of crowds of this size, they may think about booked hotels, restaurants at capacity and, yes (this is Atlanta after all!), automobile traffic. What they might not think about are the demands on the mobile communications network infrastructure and its impact on mobile communications. According to the Mobile Sports Report, before, during and after Super Bowl 52, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint said they saw a combined 50.2 terabytes of cellular traffic Sunday in and around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Though the data from year to year is hard to compare, this number appears to be a significant increase in data use over the previous Super Bowl and is expected to continue to grow at this year’s game in Atlanta.
With the explosion of social media, big ticket events are becoming a shared experience. Fans at the event also expect to text, tweet, stream, Instagram, or otherwise post their way through the game. MBS knew from the outset it had to be prepared to offer fans strong indoor mobile communications service to keep them happy. When building the stadium (which opened in August 2017), they contracted IBM to set up its cellular distributed antenna system (DAS) network inside. A so-called carrier neutral DAS system was constructed and installed with all of the major carriers operating on the system. Though they’ve told the Mobile Sports Report that they’re ready for the Super Bowl, the road has been a bumpy one at times. According to the Mobile Sports Report, IBM has filed suit against gear supplier and designer, Corning, claiming Corning botched the design for MBS’s DAS network, necessitating additional millions of dollars to fix it. For its part, Corning seeks to dismiss the suit saying the blame for any performance issues lies with IBM.
You don’t need to operate on the scale of MBS to be confronted with navigating this tricky terrain. Property owners of all sizes are faced with tenants who expect strong wireless coverage and have their own high traffic days where capacity will be an issue.
InTown Legal’s recent experience with DAS integrators shows that carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) wishing to increase their coverage or capacity inside a building will approach property owners about installing an in-building DAS. If the carrier and property owner can agree on rent and other lease terms, the carrier will then install the DAS – or partner with a third party integrator/operator to own and manage the DAS system. In some circumstances, the contracting carrier will also permit other carriers to collocate their equipment on the DAS system for a fee, which they may or may not share with the property owner (an optional part of most lease agreements).
We’re excited to have Super Bowl 53 in town this week. From what we’ve seen, the City of Atlanta, its hospitality sector and business owners have invested considerable time and capital getting ready for our million out of town guests. This investment includes enhancements to the wireless communications infrastructure to serve all our visitors’ mobile communications needs. We expect that the benefits of the enhanced wireless communications system throughout Atlanta won’t end when the game clock runs out on Super Bowl 53. We hope one of the legacies of the big game will be a robust communications system for expanded wireless coverage.
Need help negotiating your wireless infrastructure contracts? Whether you’re a property owner, third party operator, or a wireless carrier, InTown Legal is prepared to bring our expertise to the table for you. We provide agile, creative solutions to solve your legal needs at the speed of business.
LAWYERLY DISCLAIMER: none of the foregoing should be deemed exhaustive, nor should this commentary be construed as legal advice.