Friday, 15 December 2017

Who struck out during 4G tests at Washington Nationals Park?

GWS
Friday 04 August 17

During a recent major league baseball game at Washington Nationals Park, leading independent network benchmarking specialists Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. (GWS) conducted customer experience mobile network testing. The tests revealed that, while the Washington Nationals easily handled the Seattle Mariners, the real game was between cellular and WiFi network performance as they battled to provide the best online experience. Pre-game Warmup The cellular data performance before the game showed that fans might be best off sending a pre…

During a recent major league baseball game at Washington Nationals Park, leading independent network benchmarking specialists Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. (GWS) conducted customer experience mobile network testing. The tests revealed that, while the Washington Nationals easily handled the Seattle Mariners, the real game was between cellular and WiFi network performance as they battled to provide the best online experience.

Pre-game Warmup

The cellular data performance before the game showed that fans might be best off sending a pre-game selfie over WiFi, especially if they are on Sprint’s network. Data speeds across all carriers for a 4mb file upload (the size of a Snapchat video) ranged from 1 to 4 Mbps. Meanwhile, the Nationals Park WiFi network clocked in at an average 8 Mbps, which would in theory allow baseball fans to upload a video in 4 seconds, rather than 40 seconds for the slowest cellular LTE network.

WiFi’s fastball has some zip on it

The $300 million dollar program to bring WiFi to every major league baseball park in the US has brought in-seat connectivity into the 21st century. When measuring potential capacity download throughputs, the Nationals Park WiFi network was overall higher than those measured on cellular networks. During the game when the Park was the busiest, their WiFi network was capable of delivering the highest speeds to fans averaging roughly 32 Mbps, while the fastest cellular network, AT&T, averaged 25 Mbps.

Reliability is key

While the Park’s WiFi was the quickest, it was not the most reliable. The carriers all experienced higher reliability in completing data tasks, nearly 100%, while WiFi was several percentage points behind.

AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile also provided consistent speeds throughout the evening, while Verizon’s mobile data speeds dropped sharply during the game. For example, Verizon’s download speeds for tests that are similar to watching a short video clip fell from 2.8Mbps before the game to 1.6Mbps during the game, before rising to 4.2 Mbps after the game as GWS testers were leaving the Park. Verizon’s upload speeds for tests similar to uploading a small video to Facebook or other social media sites followed the same pattern, dropping noticeably from 3.8 Mbps before the game to 0.6 Mbps during, before rising to 4.9 Mbps after the game.

For voice calls AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all had 100% reliability with AT&T and Verizon using VoLTE the entire time. T-Mobile, also using VoLTE, wasn’t far behind, however, they did experience 1 in 12 calls failing before the game started.
Paul Carter, CEO GWS, commented: “People want a reliable network with reasonable speed that works when you make a call, post a selfie, or load a video. If you’re at a major sporting event, you want to quickly take care of your online activities and watch the game not your phone.”

“A consistent Internet experience is highly valued. Steady with reasonable speed is a better experience than a network which is fast, then becomes too slow to undertake some common tasks, then suddenly speeds up again. If you want to share a photo or send a video, you want your network to support that dependably. For some baseball fans, the WiFi network in the Park can provide a better experience than their own LTE connection.”

Methodology

Approximately 2,100 voice and data tests were conducted at Washington Nationals Park before, during and after a Nationals baseball game on May 24, 2017. Using the GWS OneMeasure app in combination with Samsung S8 devices, GWS network testing specialists walked throughout the ballpark testing on all levels accessible with a general admissions ticket as well as park seating. In addition, carrier testing was performed after the game along the route between Nationals Park and the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metrorail station. The tests evaluated the performance of Tier 1 carrier networks (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) and the Nationals Park WiFi network in terms of completing everyday tasks (such as uploading a video, sending a Snapchat, making a mobile network phone call, etc.) and the speed at which the data related tasks can be completed.


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