Verizon rolls out connectivity upgrades in Detroit for NFL Draft


Verizon is gearing up for the NFL Draft in Detroit

Verizon has ramped up its connectivity capacity in Detroit in anticipation of the NFL Draft. Mayor Mike Duggan predicted at least 300,000 visitors will descend on the city for draft events from 25 – 27 April.

To handle the increased network demand, Verizon has spent approximately $25 million on upgrading infrastructure in the city. Scott Hubble, manager of business development and strategic planning with Verizon, told Detroit Free Press that the company “started this preparation roughly two years ago” and that 98% of the deployed street furniture will remain in the city.

As soon as the 2024 draft location was announced, Verizon began permitting and building new infrastructure, including a significant fiber build. The operator has upgraded 30 existing small cells and installed 20 additional small cells downtown. Hubble also noted that Verizon has “built five macro towers for coverage in and around downtown”.

In addition, two temporary cell-on-wheels (COWs) have been deployed in two key locations – Cadillac Square and Hart Plaza. The COWs are connected through fiber infrastructure and each can handle up to 30,000 users at a time.

The individual sites are linked by fiber and Verizon’s Frontline team has built backup generators in case of a system failure or an emergency. For emergent needs, the Tactical Humanitarian Operations Response (THOR) will be on hand. The vehicle provides 4G and 5G in the case of a disaster.

Verizon said the upgrades to speed and capacity are key to enhancing the NFL fan experience. Social media use is continually increasing and demand surges when crowds gather for events like the draft. Verizon is confident that its upgrades will ensure users can get “three to four gig speeds” in key areas of the city.

On 23 April, Verizon announced a partnership with the Detroit Lions, becoming the “Official 5G Network of the Detroit Lions”. Verizon will be the presenting sponsor of the halftime performance at the Lions’ annual Thanksgiving game.

Detroit Lions Chief Operating Officer Mike Disner said the team is “excited to continue and grow our partnership with Verizon at Ford Field” to elevate the fan experience. High-speed, reliable connectivity in the stadium is key for fans, media, and staff.

As the team’s exclusive 5G and wireless services partner, Verizon will provide “reliable connectivity designed to improve venue operations and enhance the fan and stadium experience for the next three years”.

The operator has made a number of network and stadium improvements to Ford Field to handle the rapid uptick in data usage during games and entertainment events. Updates include Verizon’s Distributed Antenna System, a wireless network of antennas distributed throughout the venue.

Additionally, Verizon has deployed its 5G Edge Cashierless Checkout technology in two food and beverage locations in the stadium. These stores use Verizon’s network and AI technology from AiFi to facilitate a quick and easy way to purchase refreshments.

As fans eagerly await the Lions’ draft picks, the city is already a clear winner with lasting connectivity upgrades which will benefit residents and visitors long after the draft ends.

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