This weekend, the Levi’s Stadium held the Super Bowl 50 game between the Broncos and Panthers. At every Super Bowl, each of America’s carriers work hard to shore up their network coverage in and around the area of the game to ensure that customers are able to use their normal network services on their device. Long gone are the days when people expected the mobile networks to grind to a halt in and around any major sporting activity or celebration. Each of America’s national carriers invested a considerable sum on upgrades and improvements to their network infrastructure in and around the area, which we covered here. It seems that this preparation was necessary: Verizon tweeted that 343 GB of Verizon Wireless data was used during half time, but that only 20% was used from social media applications. Given that social media is seen as being one of the core uses for our smartphones, there is one important unanswered question: what were customers doing with the remaining 274 GB or so of data? How much of it was spent on network speed comparison applications?
The background to the story is a Twitter war of words between Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, John Legere, with each party claiming a victory in network speeds including speed test results. Whilst these results are all very interesting, and unfortunately do not appear to be like for like for a variety of reasons (including the networking technologies used and the timing of the speed comparisons), one point remains: the networks were working. Going by some of the headline speed results showing below, they were working well, too. Each of the carriers deliberately tuned their network to improve the upload capacity, which is traditionally allocated much less spectrum as the majority of customers download data into their device rather than upload. However, the carriers wisely believed that customers would be using their smartphones in order to upload pictures, videos and even live feed of the game and increased the available bandwidth for the up leg of the connection. In the screen shot below showing Verizon has having the faster network, we can see how Verizon’s upload speed is only a couple of megabits slower than their download speed.
Whilst these network speed results are interesting, it does show that the carriers are committed to bringing the best possible service to customers in a headline, busy area. The Twitter war of words is nothing new but it raises the profile of the carriers. Of course, North America consists of a lot more land mass than the San Francisco Bay Area. Customers in other parts of the country will be hoping that their particular carrier’s investment into the infrastrcture surrounding the stadium will not reduce ongoing upgrade and improvement plans for their particular area.