There's a classic rock and roll tale that during the 1980s Van Halen would insist there were no brown M&Ms in a bowl in their dressing room at the stadiums and arenas they would play.
The story if often cited as an example of rock ‘n' roll excess, but the truth is that it was inserted by the tour organisers to see how much attention to detail was being paid by those hosting the shows.
Fast-forward to 2017 and there is a growing trend for artists playing at major stadiums want to ensure that venues have adequate connectivity, to ensure fans will be able to share the event far and wide on social media.
For Wembley Stadium, a 90,000 seat venue that also hosts major sporting events such as England football international or the FA Cup final, keeping pace with the mobile data demands of visitors is no mean feat.
To meet this growing demand EE, the stadiums 'digital partner', called in Cobham Wireless, which specialises in providing Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) for coverage in built-up areas, to help boost the systems in place to ensure high-quality coverage for all mobile networks.
Speaking to V3 Anthony Sutton, Coverage Director at Cobham Wireless, said that by 2015, when work on the new implementation began, EE had seen a 450 per cent increase in data on its network at the stadium since 2012.
"They wanted to meet this demand and look to where they think it [data traffic] will go in the next three to five years by having a system that can support the huge expected increases," he said.
To do this Cobham installed their infrastructure around the stadium, most notably from the gantries above the ‘bowl' - the term for the seating within the stadium - to achieve maximum coverage.
"We had to work around some of the constraints of the stadium about where we could mount our equipment - we put some on the lighting rigs in the gantries as this gave us the best place for coverage," added Sutton.
To ensure all operators are covered the Cobham system can work on all the main frequencies used by the UK's operators at 800Mhz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600GHz.
"This gives the operators the chance to have their own base stations on site to link into the DAS and choose how much coverage they want in any given area of the venue," said Sutton.
Since the work began there has been plenty for the system to handle. For example, during the FA Cup final in 2016 almost 1TB of data flowed over the system, while a weekend pop concert at the stadium saw 3.5TB sent and received.
The demographic of an event can also change the levels of data sent, with Sutton noting for example that a Bruce Springsteen concert at the stadium used about half the amount of data than one by Beyonce.
The data load is roughly split between upload and download, with people apparently as keen to stay connected when at an event as they are to share images and videos on social networks or with friends, Sutton noted.
To keep pace with this demand to share content the new Cobham systems is able to handle far faster upload speeds, with the average on the EE network now 20.1Mbps, up from 8Mbps on the old system.
And it is this that artists are increasingly keen to ensure is part of their requirements for a gig, so they can rely on the free marketing that their fans will generate.
"Two or three years ago this was not even on the radar, but now they want people to be actively positing, streaming and so on, rather than having to wait until they get home two hours later," Sutton said.
There is no suggestion the demands for mobile data will ease off either, certainly if past rates of growth continue, while the arrival of 5G networks will only add to this growth in data.
"When 5G is launched there may be a refresh in order to accommodate this, although that's some way down the line at the moment," Sutton said.
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