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Real 7SIGNAL Customers: Madison Square Garden

7SIGNAL helps Madison Square Garden wireless engineers deliver fast, reliable, and seamless Wi-Fi experiences to guests, vendors, and staff members.

Key takeaways

  • Madison Square Garden has a capacity of around 20,000 patrons and requires high-performing Wi-Fi for events, which are dense with devices and users
  • The 7SIGNAL Platform opens up visibility so the network team knows how end users are experiencing the Wi-Fi based on their location in the large arena space
  • Network planners ensure the Wi-Fi is at the same level for empty days or small events as it is for packed game days
  • Rogue devices are challenges for the network planners in this large arena

7SIGNAL recently showcased one of our clients, Madison Square Garden, in a short Wi-Fi webinar about planning for density and how 7SIGNAL sensors make a big impact on this massive arena. 7SIGNAL’s Chief Product and Technology Officer Ted Schneider sat down with Jason Purrone, Network Architect for the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Company, to talk about wireless. 

How the 7SIGNAL Platform improves the digital experience

Madison Square Garden can seat around 20,000 people for major shows and sporting events, and the space consists of five floors. So it’s a high-density venue. There are thus a variety of different devices and applications being used in the environment at any given time, especially during full-capacity events.

The way the Garden’s network engineers measure the success of their wireless has a lot to do with the 7SIGNAL Platform. Purrone and the team have placed many of these sensors throughout the arena, in addition to the company’s smaller venues in New York and Chicago and in their corporate office. They leverage 7SIGNAL to tell them what it looks like when customers and visitors come into the arenas and theaters where the main ingress points are.

Guests come into the environment and open their phones to find their tickets on an app, and the ticket staff members have wireless devices to scan the tickets. Customers need a great Wi-Fi experience for this process to run smoothly, and staff members need to be on a non-congested service set identifier (SSID) to scan.

As customers walk through the venue, they use Wi-Fi repeatedly, checking their devices to find their seats, contact other people, look up event information, post on social media, and more. The wireless experience thus needs to be optimal throughout the entire environment.

Certain venues under the MSG umbrella do require people to shut off their phones while they are in theater seats, but the main arena does not. Guests can get on their phones and take pictures or live stream. The Wi-Fi needs to be able to handle that and provide guests with a memorable customer experience.

7SIGNAL’s sensors are used everywhere throughout the big arena, gathering information about how guests experience the Wi-Fi in different sections of seats. The sensors measure download speeds, upload speeds, connectivity, and more to ensure a seamless and fast experience. They also assess whether a device is connecting to the closest AP or, because it is such a large, open space, if it is connecting to an AP that is too far away.

The sensors  help improve the customer experience by delivering great visibility of wireless performance in the main areas of the theaters and when people are sitting at their seats. Engineers know what guests can expect when they are in different locations.

The 7SIGNAL Platform is also used by MSG as a troubleshooting tool for various teams. This tool provides information about whether there is a lot of channel overlap if a device is standing in a given area, or if there are rogue devices to address, among other important measures.

Is anything done differently on game/concert day?

Purrone says that the team always has their wireless network optimized for the largest event days. Even when there is no event going on, or it is a smaller event, they do not turn everything back down. The network is always in the fully optimized state.

As people come in with different devices and chip sets, each will have different experiences. The team goes off what happens when the arena is at full capacity, meaning thousands of guests with mobile devices and workers using handheld ticket scanners and food and beverage devices to take credit cards. At any given time, there could be thousands of devices connected to the Wi-Fi all throughout the campus. MSG keeps the wireless at a level that can handle it all.

IoT concerns for the future

The MSG networking team works closely with their vendors, so they know when a handheld device release has new capability, like 5G. Some types of IoT devices only work on specific channels. The team has to ensure that using one of these devices does not interrupt the channel plan, since they like to minimize overlapping cells throughout the environment.

The arena’s vendors mostly report zero issues with the wireless network. They jump on, get onto their SSID, and have a fairly consistent experience whether the arena is empty or full. The network team tries to separate out the traffic into guests, corporate users, vendors, and other types of users.

What about rogue devices?

Purrone is the go-to person who deals with rogue devices, which are unauthorized and potentially malicious devices that connect to a wireless network. When Purrone uncovers rogue devices, he typically seeks them out and unplugs them or turns them off, or he will ask the user to turn off Wi-Fi on the device.

He finds that people often leave their devices turned on, but they don’t want to connect to the corporate network, and they can disrupt the rest of the wireless network. In Purrone’s world, rogue devices are a big hassle he deals with regularly.

Why MSG works with 7SIGNAL

Contact 7SIGNAL to learn more about our wireless experience monitoring platform.

7SIGNAL® is the leader in wireless experience monitoring, providing insight into wireless networks and control over Wi-Fi performance so businesses and organizations can thrive. Our cloud-based wireless network monitoring platform continually tests and measures Wi-Fi performance at the edges of the network, enabling fast solutions to digital experience issues and stronger connections for mission-critical users, devices, and applications. Learn more at www.7signal.com.