How app updates siphoned off Super Bowl bandwidth

February 25, 2014 11:20 AM EST

It's challenging enough to provide bandwidth to more than 70,000 fans with mobile devices in an NFL stadium. But it wasn't until the Super Bowl last month that National Football League senior vice president and CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle realized that a significant amount of available bandwidth was being wasted by the thousands of smart phones fans brought with them to the stadium.

"What we learned is when you provide Wi-Fi and have smartphones most apps start to look for updates. People's phones are using valuable bandwidth to update apps that they probably are no longer even using on their phones."

That bandwidth is needed for a variety of other uses, including the apps provided by the NFL that push information to fans about wait times at the bathrooms, what routes through the stadium to take for optimum traffic flows, and where to go to find water and transportation.

 

McKenna-Doyle working from the sidelines before a game. Photo credit: NFL.

Mobile app behavior is just one connectivity variable. The two others include overall available bandwidth and the robustness of the infrastructure that delivers it. "Only when we can control all three variables can we can provide the best experience," she says.

So McKenna-Doyle's team is trying to figure out how to deal with app behavior so that the apps that fans want to use aren't losing bandwidth to those background app updates. She also recently signed a deal with Extreme Networks. "They're doing analytics so we can see patterns of use and where heavy use is happening," she says.