Big, Bigger, And Then Texas Stadium

January 31, 2011 - 1 Comment

It’s been a most interesting week in my wireless corner of the universe. A number of very cool things happened, but I’d have to say that for me, the meeting of the week award goes to a wireless deployment site visit at Cowboy Stadium with an all access pass.

The scale and scope of that building is beyond hyperbole. There simply is no single word to describe the Cowboy Stadium. It turns out that $1.3 billion buys an awful lot of steel, glass, concrete, and electrical infrastructure. For the Super Bowl there next week, you’ll be spending approx $23K per seat near the 50 yard line at the lower level. A measly $3K each will get you one of the highest seats in the house- and believe me, they’re way, way up there. Think of watching a sporting event from the roof of a 20 story building a block away- literally.

It’s a structure that rivals anything I’m aware of that mankind has built in terms of scale. Math, engineering, tools, design knowledge, and maintenance resources seem almost infinite now. The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt pales in comparison as the Cowboy stadium has about 6X the square footage. Mind you, to the best of my knowledge, Jerry Jones wasn’t restricted to papyrus, hand calculations, and rudimentary tools, so the ancient Egyptians are still able to amaze us- 4,600 years later.

One thing I’m fairly certain of is that the Egyptians didn’t install wireless. A good thing too, because the complexity of installing over 900 access points would impress even the best of their engineers. It’s pretty daunting today; there are, on average, 40 AP’s for every 100 feet of walkway inside the perimeter of the Cowboy Stadium. Each technician verifying and fine tuning the design walked dozens of miles to ensure every AP would properly service the local clients. Just for kicks, I took an RF measurement at dead center on the playing field- it came in at around -70 dBm. This would rank as another one of those “that really shouldn’t work that well here” experiences I’ve had in nearly every deployment I’ve attended around the world.

An OC12 fiber backhaul ring surrounds the stadium, and it’s backed up by a separate OC3 ring. The monthly access fee for those two lines is somewhere in the $200K per month range. It’s as impressive as the facility itself which is designed and configured as its own WAN.

While the Great Pyramid at Giza is the only surviving structure of the original seven wonders of the world, I can’t help but think they’d be as impressed with enterprise class WLAN deployments, as we are with what they achieved.

What do you think?

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  1. Good write-up Neil. David Strom of #ITWorld used the Media Day to provide a video walk-through of the technology within Cowboys Stadium