University of Tennessee boosts game day experiences for fans with wireless connectivity to all 102,000 seats using Wi-Fi 6E and AI-powered infrastructure from HPE Aruba Networking

May 7, 2024
Press Release
Networking

The sixth-largest U.S. collegiate football stadium blankets every seat with wireless connectivity for the first time, enabling unlimited content streaming and other modern touchless mobile experiences from entry to exit

In this article
  • The deployment features Wi-Fi 6E for indoor areas, along with the latest generation of outdoor Wi-Fi, enabling fans to stream unlimited content during NCAA Division I football games and other events
  • Operationally, the stadium’s modern connectivity supports applications for smoothly orchestrating complex large public venue productions such as 100% mobile ticketing, physical security, communication solutions, and point of sale

HOUSTON – May 7, 2024 – For the first time in the 100-year history of Neyland Stadium, University of Tennessee (UT) is blanketing all of its 101,915-seats, as well as gates and outdoor plazas, with the latest generation of Wi-Fi connectivity using an AI-powered solution from HPE Aruba Networking by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE). The deployment features Wi-Fi 6E for indoor areas, along with the latest generation of outdoor Wi-Fi, enabling fans to stream unlimited content during NCAA Division I football games and other events. Operationally, the stadium’s modern connectivity supports applications for smoothly orchestrating complex large public venue productions such as 100% mobile ticketing, physical security, communication solutions, and point of sale. Future technologies are expected to include in-seat refreshment purchasing and IPTV solutions.

“Adopting wireless connectivity, including Wi-Fi 6E, from HPE Aruba Networking enables us to achieve our connected stadium goals for supplying next-generation mobile experiences that contribute to an exceptional fan experience.”

Thomas Moats, Jr.
Assistant athletic director for Information Technology for University of Tennessee Athletics

“Exceptional game day and special event experiences play an important part in fulfilling our mission to lead the way forward in all aspects of college sports.”,” said Thomas Moats, Jr., assistant athletic director for Information Technology for University of Tennessee Athletics. “Adopting wireless connectivity, including Wi-Fi 6E, from HPE Aruba Networking enables us to achieve our connected stadium goals for supplying next-generation mobile experiences that contribute to an exceptional fan experience.”

Originally constructed in 1921, the iconic Neyland Stadium is the sixth-largest college football venue in the U.S. and home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Located in the heart of Knoxville, Tennessee, it has a total enrollment of more than 36,000 students served by 11,000 faculty and staff.

Serving every fan entertainment need

According to Moats, UT Vols fans are currently using the new stadium Wi-Fi to enjoy fast, touchless gate entry, monitor other sporting events that are happening concurrently, provide ancillary entertainment for their children and grandchildren while watching a game, and share the excitement on their social media accounts.

“When Peyton Manning and our guest entertainer Dolly Parton took the field during our game against Georgia, Wi-Fi utilization spiked to 31GBps,” said Moats. “The previous throughput record for any stadium in the U.S. was the 2023 Super Bowl at 25.8GBps, demonstrating the scalability and reliability of selecting an HPE Aruba Networking solution for our deployment.”

Other benefits include improved ingress times at all 26 gates, ensuring every attendee is in the building prior to kickoff. In the past, fans could still be passing through the gates up to 20 minutes after a game started.

“For a globally recognized and respected sports brands, it’s critical to continue tradition-rich histories of excellence by elevating mobile experiences for fans,” said Stuart Strickland, wireless chief technology officer at HPE Aruba Networking. “Providing high-performance mobility for the Vols’ passionate and loyal fanbase enables UT Athletics to continue its national leadership in ticketed collegiate sports.”

“With HPE Aruba Networking Central we gain an intuitive management solution that helps us rapidly troubleshoot our network and provides real-time insights for optimizing Wi-Fi performance during fast-moving events.”

Thomas Moats, Jr.
Assistant athletic director for Information Technology for University of Tennessee Athletics

Enabling seamless transitions

UT Athletics is also deploying the AI-powered management solutions HPE Aruba Networking User Experience Insight (UXI), for real-time network health and performance monitoring and HPE Aruba Networking Central on Premises, for network optimization and security. The adoption aligns the Stadium’s wireless with the institution’s existing academic HPE Aruba Networking deployment, ensuring users have the same secure, high-quality mobile experiences in the stadium as in the classroom, including seamless transitions between the stadium and academic facilities.

“With HPE Aruba Networking Central we gain an intuitive management solution that helps us rapidly troubleshoot our network and provides real-time insights for optimizing Wi-Fi performance during fast-moving events,” said Moats. “In addition to supporting a wide range of currently-connected solutions, we’ll be able to roll out many new IoT solutions, such as restroom and lighting management systems for further improved attendee experiences and operational sustainability.”

Proven experts produce future-ready results

To gain the right wireless infrastructure, UT Athletics turned to the long-tenured large public venue (LPV) engineering experts at M S Benbow and Associates Professional Engineering Corporation (MSB). Working together, it was determined that a Wi-Fi 6E-based solution would make Neyland Stadium future-ready.

“With fan connectivity expectations escalating for frictionless experiences such as event entry and on-site purchases, as well as the capability to stream experiences to friends and colleagues, adopting HPE Aruba Networking and MSB's Wi-Fi 6E expertise ensures that UT Athletics can deliver,” said Ken Wright, P.E., director of Connectivity Solutions at MSB. “To manage such a large network, spread out over several acres, HPE Aruba Networking Central and UXI provides UT Athletics with the streamlined management capabilities that help keep IT overhead low.”

Anchoring the Neyland Entertainment District

The Stadium’s new Wi-Fi will also support the venue as an anchor destination for the planned mixed-use Neyland Entertainment District, a year-around destination that will enhance campus and community. The public-private partnership will span the Tennessee River waterfront outside of the historic venue and is envisioned to include a hotel, restaurants, retail, event space and other family-friendly entertainment options.

“Realizing our long-term goals for the Stadium and the Neyland Entertainment District requires having the right networking infrastructure and vendor partnership in place,” said Moats. “HPE Aruba Networking has been a great partner throughout our deployment, ensuring our Wi-Fi was ready for our first game, and for every event since.”

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