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Cisco Live: Petco Park prepares to light up wireless

SAN DIEGO — Next month Petco Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres, will turn on a distributed antenna system and a wireless LAN to provide wireless access for all of its fans.

The Padres, a Cisco customer, opened the gates of its ballpark to the technology press during Cisco Live this week in San Diego. Like most sports stadiums, mobile access at Petco Park has been a challenge, according to Steve Reese, vice president of technology for the Padres. The building is made tens of thousands of tons of concrete and steel. And the thousands of fans to come to games compete for limited bandwidth, overwhelming the macro cells of the mobile service providers in the area.

“We had great intentions [when we built this park], but something was missing,” Reese said. “What wasn’t factored in was the speed of technology as time moved on. The [mobile] expectations of fans that come into this facility today aren’t met.”

Reese is trying to address this. He has deployed a distributed antenna system (DAS) with 460 individual antennas. The “anchor carrier” for DAS is Verizon, he said, but it has capacity for three other carriers.

Backing up the DAS is a wireless LAN composed of 423 Cisco 3602e access points (APs), rugged outdoor APs designed for stadium deployments. The 3602e features a narrow 36-degree broadcast radius as opposed to the typical 180-degree radius. This enables the Padres to target specific sections of the ballpark without intersecting with the streams of neighboring APs.

The Padres have also installed a dual-core of Nexus 7009 switches to handle all this mobile traffic.

Reese said that 50% of Padres fans come to the park with mobile devices and about 12% of them will connect to his Wi-Fi network rather than the cellular networks. The Padres’ mobile infrastructure is robust, but Reese remains unsure of what will happen.

“A variety of people are coming in and we don’t know what they’re going to do,” he said. “One thing is iCloud. Thirty-five percent of the phones coming in are going to be iPhones and they will be trying to sync with iCloud. How are we going to deal with that?”

The Padres will get some answers when the team turns on the wireless network during baseball’s all star break in mid-July.

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I realize this is a bit late - but there is an error in this article.  It is not the Cisco 3602e that has the narrow beamwidth. It is the Cisco 3502p.