Fans inside CenturyLink Field in Seattle know they are better off watching the action on the field rather than trying to use the internet to learn more about their team or share what they’re seeing with friends at home. Connections are notoriously slow or impossible due mainly to the fact that many thousands of people overcrowd the available mobile networks.
For teams like the Seattle Seahawks or Sounders FC that are increasingly trying to enhance the experience by engaging with fans through mobile devices during games, it’s a troubling proposition to know that those fans can’t event see or interact with what’s being shared.
Since we already how CenturyLink Field measures when it comes to crowd noise, Seattle-based Speedtest by Ookla decided to find out how the stadium really rates when it comes to internet connections in and around the venue.
The company had an airplane fly a “Take a Speedtest” banner over CenturyLink during a Seahawks preseason game last month against the Dallas Cowboys to encourage fans to take measurements with the Speedtest app. Data was collected and analyzed from the four major carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
According to Speedtest, Sprint had the highest average download and upload speeds, but the number of tests taken using Sprint “did not reach a statistically significant number.” So with a more significant number of tests, Verizon actually achieved the fastest average download and upload speeds. T-Mobile and AT&T were next.
Speedtest also looked at 12 other events at the stadium, including concerts and soccer matches, and found Sprint to have the highest average download speed at 23.03 Mbps. Verizon had the highest average upload speed at 10.47 Mbps.
The highest average download speeds took place outside the stadium, Speedtest noted. So grabbing a new app is easier to do while your tailgating. But upload speeds are better inside, which might explain why we still get to see Instagram and Facebook images of happy fans in their seats taken during games.
Speedtest also compared internet speeds at CenturyLink with three other football stadiums — the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, and the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium.
Levi’s Stadium opened just two years ago and runs away with the best internet connectivity, thanks to infrastructure investments that enhance the ability of fans to engage online while in the stadium.
Check out Speedtest’s post on Medium for more data and details from the experiment. Also, the company encourages fans to share their own test results, taken with the Speedtest app, on social media next time they’re at a game or other event, using the hashtag #CrowdSpeed.