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At 100 years old, Fenway Park brims with new technology

Boston Red Sox's historic ballpark adds Metro Ethernet, more Wi-Fi to its lineup

By Brad Reed, Network World
April 12, 2012 03:09 PM ET

Network World - Fenway Park may be 100 years old this season but that doesn't mean the Boston Red Sox baseball stadium is stuck with antiquated technology.

Quite the opposite, in fact. This year Fenway is getting its own Comcast Metro Ethernet fiber connection that has a guaranteed service level of 100Mbps. This will help the ballpark cope with the many demands of modern sports facilities, which invariably include real-time uploads of video footage during games, terabytes of video to be used as scouting reports on opponents and public Wi-Fi hotspots that can be used by fans to stay connected during games.

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Steve Conley, who has worked as the Red Sox's director of IT for the past 11 years, says his goal is to keep Fenway at the cutting edge of technology to meet the rapidly-changing demands of both the Red Sox organization and of fans expecting a digital experience at the ballpark. In this question-and-answer session we pick Conley's brain about what the park's new fiber connection will do to upgrade the park's network, how expectations have changed for what ballparks can deliver digitally and how he expects wireless technology to change the ballpark experience in the future.

Tell me about the upgrades you're bringing to Fenway's network with Comcast Metro Ethernet.

We now have a direct fiber link into stadium. We have a 100Mbps Ethernet circuit and on demand we can change it and scale it up to 10Gbps if need be. I'm not sure we'd ever need to go to 10Gbps but we monitor our usage and it's growing game by game. This is one of those keys to help us provide faster Internet service across the board.

What will the new fiber connection let you do that you couldn't do before?

We have it set up for our normal business operations such as email, remote access and general office functionality. We're doing a lot of connecting back to our minor league facilities and we're also connected directly to Jet Blue Park, our Spring Training facility. Being able to ride over that one backbone makes that office connection seamless between the two parks, since the best we could do before was 1 to 2Mbps connecting between Boston and Fort Myers.

There's also a number of things that happen in-game. We have both the general office connection, but also have the press and photographers who put pressure on the network when they upload material from Fenway into the cloud. And at same time we're starting to look at fan access. What's going to change the most over the next two to three years is that we'll be able to extend our network out to people in our stadium. That's not here right now, that's more forward looking but I think that's something that's just going to grow.

What's your typical peak traffic per game?

We're probably about a good, consistent 20Mbps to 25Mbps, then jumping up to 40mbps during big games. This year we're going to keep a close eye on it and see what correlations there will be. 100Mbps has been a good number for other clubs that we've talked to. We'll have a better feel for it with our biggest games coming up such as the 100th anniversary game and the Patriot's Day game. After that I'll have a much better idea of what to expect, though I'm thinking we're going to peak out at 75Mbps.

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