The only thing my boss said to me was, ‘Chip, the only thing that has to work is the cell phones.’”
That’s why stadiums across the country are partnering with cellular carriers to build Distributed Antenna Systems, or DAS. These are essentially a bunch of antennas spread throughout a building to make sure phones don’t lose their connections to the cellular network when fans walk in the door. But it’s not just phone calls and text messages filling up wireless networks during games. Fans are streaming video, whether from third-party sources or apps created by the home teams to provide replays, different camera angles, or action happening in other cities. Teams are concluding that cellular just isn’t enough, and are thus building WiFi networks to offload traffic from cellular and provide connections to devices that are WiFi-only.
Distributed Antenna Systems connect to the service provider’s network either with a bi-directional amplifier, which uses an outdoor antenna to bring the cellular signal into the building, or a base transceiver station, which is installed inside and is the same type of radio used at cell sites, as explained by the Steel In The Air cellular consultancy. Signals are then distributed throughout the facility with a series of hubs, cables, and antennas.