Carousel Industries Elevating New England Patriots' Stadium With Wave 2 Technology; Eyeing College Arenas

Red-hot solution provider Carousel Industries is in the midst of a wireless network upgrade at Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots -- installing Wave 2 technologies in one of the NFL’s most prominent technology-enabled stadiums.

Ripping and replacing access points and managing the deployment is no easy task in a venue that houses nearly 70,000 screaming fans who expect perfect Wi-Fi connectivity, according to Brad McCain, senior director of data and networking for Exeter, R.I.-based Carousel, ranked No. 64 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500.

’If you can overcome the challenges here in a stadium like Gillette, campuses are simple -- especially now with Wave 2 technology,’ said McCain in an interview with CRN. ’All the glass, metal and thick concrete … we need more than heat mapping.’

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[Related: It’s Game Time: 10 Things You Don’t Know About NFL Stadium Connectivity]

Carousel, a top channel partner for Extreme Networks, is increasing the amount of access points inside the stadium from 362 to a whopping 1,121 Wave 2 APs provided by Extreme. Nearly 650 of those APs are being installed under the seats, while four Extreme wireless controllers will manage the entire stadium’s Wi-Fi.

Due to the challenging environment at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., the $525 million solution provider invested in new software from vendor 7Signal that can measure building density compared to simply giving a heat map.

’We needed additional tools to be able to do predictive analysts on where to put these APs,’ said McCain. ’7Signal doesn’t just do a heat map. It takes in consideration the windows refraction, the thickness of the walls, the construction material – how materials handle certain radio frequency components. … We don’t need to do four days of walkthroughs anymore.’

Leaning how to correctly design, install and deploy wireless networks inside stadiums gives Carousel the experience and skill set to take on any environment, according to McCain, particularly with new Wave 2 AP technologies.

’Every time you double your frequency, you cut in half the distance that it can travel,’ said McCain. ’So with Wave 2 being at a higher frequency and rates, the distances travel less. So there’s some corrections that have to be made and we learn how to do that. …The revenue opportunity is secondary to the marketing opportunity that presents itself.’

Using its stadium expertise, Carousel is striving to enter into the underserved college stadium market. While the NFL has only around 30 stadiums, college football has hundreds of facilities across the country in need of a network upgrade.

’Our focus now is on Division One stadium projects,’ said McCain. ’It’s an underserved market. We do a lot of university work so we have a lot of higher-education customers that have ties into a lot of their stadiums. … We’re excited about the future here.’

Extreme Networks CEO Ed Meyercord said Carousel is a key component in the vendor’s wireless stadium practice that includes 10 NFL teams including the Buffalo Bills, which Carousel also helped in deploying Wi-Fi.

The Wi-Fi usage in Gillette stadium has doubled since 2012, while the team’s application user rate has increased a whopping 400 percent.

’There’s a lot of radio frequency challenges in a stadium like [Gillette] and a lot of work that goes into the designing of the system and making sure you have proper coverage,’ said Meyercord. ’Carousel is strategic for us in doing the work and the deployment – they’ve been extremely helpful and we’re looking forward to doing more stadium projects with them.’