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The undefeated New England Patriots and the New York Giants clash head-on at SuperBowl XLII in Phoenix, Arizona on Feb. 3. The Super Bowl stadium (wikipedia) in Arizona is ready with an advanced wireless system. Actually, several, says writer John Cox in Network World.

The University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, offers Wi-Fi, as well as support for five different cellular carriers, and a separate, dedicated 450MHz public safety net. The stadium holds up to 63,400 fans, and is home to the Arizona Cardinals football team.

We wanted to build the most technologically advanced stadium in the NFL, or even the world,” said Mark Feller, senior director of technology for the Arizona Cardinals. “All events have wireless needs,” he said, noting that the 1.7 million-square-foot stadium is expected to host more than a million visitors in its first year.

Feller and his team turned to Cellular Specialties Inc. (CSI), an in-building wireless solutions provider, for an infrastructure that gives players, staff, media and fans use of wireless devices such as cell phones, laptops and PDAs throughout the entire stadium.

The stadium’s main data facility houses and connects the infrastructure of all-Cisco routers and switches, and phone lines. Instead of running fiber, installers lay down tube cells; an empty pipe with multiple lanes. When more capacity is needed, compressed air or nitrogen blows optical fiber through the lanes.

Most of the wireless signals are carried via a combination of single-mode fiber and coaxial cable to ceiling-mounted antennas, all part of a system from MobileAccess of Vienna, Virginia (right).

The “distributed antenna” systems enables pervasive cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, and lets base stations and Wi-Fi access points be centralized in one or a few locations. Products from LCG Wireless offer similar in-building services for wireless companies. LGC’s InterReach Fusion delivers ultra high-speed wireless voice, data and video services inside any type of structure. Zinwave says they support all wireless services (including 2G, 3G, LTE, WiFi and WiMAX), on a single wireless infrastructure.

Fiber links the remote hubs, while the hubs link via coax cable to 5-inch dome-shaped distributed antennas. The Cisco Wi-Fi access points are collected in the various remote hubs, where they’re plugged into a Mobile Access aggregator.

The in-building wireless system was part of the original plan for the $450 million, multi-use stadium, which boasts both a retractable roof and playing field, says Mark Feller, vice president for technology, Arizona Cardinals.

Some 45 “radio cops” will be suiting up for Super Bowl XLII, to organize the use of some 10,000 wireless devices. Anritsu is supplying the NFL with 36 MS2721B Spectrum Master handheld spectrum analyzers. They will research, troubleshoot, and analyze the RF spectrum at the league’s 32 stadiums before, during, and after games.

It will be used to coordinate the approximately 400 or more frequencies used at each stadium during a regular season NFL game. RF is used by team coaches to communicate with players on the field; all broadcast TV and radio entities; medical teams; team security; and public safety.

The Phoenix Police Department installed a wireless video surveillance system connected to Wi-Fi nodes provided by Firetide around the City of Phoenix prior to the game.

The department installed nearly 40 video surveillance cameras in and around downtown Phoenix with forty HotPort 6000 mesh nodes wirelessly connecting the cameras to operations centers where state, local and federal public safety agencies work together. Avrio Group, a Firetide Premier Partner and supplier of IP-based surveillance solutions, designed the network and collaborated with the police department’s technical personnel on the installation.

Sprint estimates 100,000 fans will converge on Arizona and has doubled the network capacity around the stadium with Revision A enhanced mobile broadband.

The most common still camera among pros covering the Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix this year will probably be the Canon EOS-1D Mark III and 400mm f/2.8L IS (image-stabilized) Canon lens (above), says Pop Photo. Perhaps Sports Illustrated will trot out their 1200mm f/5.6L Canon lens ($89,579).

Reuters has used OQO’s Model 02 which can fit in a jacket pocket, so the photographer can shoot directly to the device’s hard drive, where files can be automatically resized and transmitted to a network. They hope Wireless USB connectivity will be available in the future.

UMPC Blog has a video of the OQO in action. But Wi-Fi will not be used at The Big Game. The “data traffic jam,” in the words of Sports Illustrated’s Greg Choat, makes it unreliable. Instead, photographers use runners to transport their memory cards to photo editors in nearby trailers.

For Super Bowl XLII, Reuters will use a new server-based editing system that allows photographers and editors anywhere in the world to simultaneously connect to a single server to both upload and edit pictures. Editors select and pull only the files they want to use from the server. “The system is so efficient,” says Hershorn, “that we’re editing almost in real time. Within 2 or 3 minutes of a play, the pictures are on our clients’ screens.”

The Super Bowl is treated as a Level One National Security threat because of its extreme high profile status. Vice president of security for the NFL, Milt Ahlerich, a former FBI agent, oversees security for the NFL. At earlier Super Bowls, sensor fusion technology from Distributed Instruments monitored a constant flow of data from multiple sensors at a centralized command center.

Some sensors will be mounted in fixed positions, while others will be carried by National Guard personnel as they move around the stadium during the event with handheld computers. Distributed Instruments uses the Transducer Data Exchange Protocol (TDXP), which is being submitted for consideration as a standard protocol. Facial-recognition software helps identify suspects in crowds. Law-enforcement agencies will use a Unified Command Center at Veterans Memorial Coliseum that will serve as an emergency-communications compound through the Super Bowl.

For many of an anticipated 125,000 Super Bowl visitors, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will be their first introduction to the Valley. The Phoenix newspaper says Super Bowl XLII is expected to drop more than $400 million into Arizona’s economy.

SIRIUS Satellite Radio will provide 12 live broadcasts featuring game calls in eight languages , an increase from the 11 broadcasts and seven languages SIRIUS aired last year, plus live day-long news and expert analysis every day of Super Bowl Week.

Super Bowl XLII will be seen live in 223 countries, with 28 of them in high-definition. The audience in the United States for the telecast by Fox, part of the News Corporation, is expected to exceed 90 million viewers, with estimates as high as 135 million total viewers. The Fox Video Network (FVN) includes 20 regional locations connected with the main FSN facilities in Los Angeles and Houston. Cablecam’s aerial platform, suspended by cables, provides overhead coverage. Skycam and Flycam provide similar capabilities.

The main pre-game truck is the Patriot 53-foot expando mobile unit, built in 2004 for large-scale HD production. The Patriot truck has been used by ESPN and ABC Sports as well as by HBO for a Justin Timberlake concert.

Gear on the Patriot includes a Grass Valley Group HD Kalypso Duo Video Production Center; GVG Dual-Twin HD GVEous MX; PESA 128×128 HD broadband router w/ 64 monitoring downconverters; PESA 256×256 Cheetah analog video router; Nvision 512×512 mono audio router; a dozen Sony HDC Sony HDC 1500 1080/60P cameras with Canon DigiSuper 100x zoom lenses (right).

For the game, Fox will introduce the Fox Jumper, a high-resolution camera system that works with the Sportvision virtual graphics application (wikipedia) which tracks ball trajectory and speed. Fox Sports will use Sony 3000 HD super slow-motion cameras if the light is good enough.

Some $3.3 million in cameras will be used including two dozen Sony HDC-1500 cameras ($90,000 each) and four Sony HDC-3300 super slow-motion HD camera systems ($270,000 each).

Game Creek Video is bringing four of its five Fox mobile units built exclusively for Fox Sports to cover NASCAR and NFL.

Truck A is a 53-foot single expando that handles all instant replay operations along with audio and video control plus transmission engineering. The truck carries 18 Sony HDC 1500 cameras and four Sony HDCS 3300 super slow-mo cameras; a PESA 1156×1156 video router and 1256×1256 stereo audio router.

Truck B is a 53-foot single expando dedicated to production control with a three-tier control room facing 122 Samsung 21-inch flat-screen monitors on the wall. Truck C is a straight side 53-foot truck that carries most of the field equipment along with four Final Cut Pro editing systems plus the Sportvision first and 10 virtual graphics system. Truck D performs all of the transmission using Tandberg Television encoding and decoding.

Fox Sports and their subcontractors had about 2 weeks to get the HD broadcast system up and running. That includes configuring the half time show system as well as the complete audio and video substructures required to broadcast through the stadium and remote truck systems.

The Fox Sports Net enables peer-to-peer connections between all locations in the country and supports simultaneous, bidirectional transfer of program content and control signals. The major technical and vendor solutions used in the FSN network are Tandberg’s comprehensive MPEG compression and decompression systems and Marconi ATM and TCP/IP network switches. They have joint ownership arrangements with industry players such as NBC, Cablevision, and Comcast.

The NFL Network coverage of Super Bowl XLII, features more than 100 broadcasting hours that includes NFL Total Access on the scene with news, features, and interviews all week. Every press conference is carried live and expanded pre-and-post game shows are part of the coverage.

Last year LSU began using a system called PlayAction Simulator, developed jointly by XOS and EA Sports. The system builds on EA’s popular Madden NFL and NCAA football video games. Teams and players can create their own digital playbooks and diagram plays and run their offense against Madden in a virtual football world using PlayStation-emulating controllers, to move through different offenses and defenses.

Advertisers have paid an average of $2.7 million for 30 seconds in which to wow the American public with their best creative efforts. Last year’s Super Bowl victory by the Indianapolis Colts, broadcast on CBS, attracted 93.2 million viewers, making it the second-most-watched game ever. The price for a 30-second commercial remained under $2.4 million last year.

Fox Sports also is upping the ability of advertisers to connect with potential customers this year by creating a Super Bowl profile on MySpace . Viewers will be able to go to the site and view and share in-game commercials once they’ve aired and also click through to advertisers. Ad Age handicaps the spots.

Anheuser-Busch buys more commercial time in the Super Bowl than anyone, and is likely to run seven spots in Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, all of them for Budweiser or Bud Light. In 2007, Taylor Nelson Sofres reported, Anheuser-Busch spent almost $23.9 million for its Super Bowl spots and PepsiCo spent $11.9 million. In 2006 the totals were $22.5 million and $10 million, respectively.

Tickets are going for a cool $3000 — and up — for the game. A ticket went for as little as $6 at SuperBowl #1.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s coverage of Winter X Games 12, Jan. 24-27 from Aspen Colorado will mark “the first ever multi-sport winter action sports event to be presented in HD,” according to Rick Alessandri, senior vice president, ESPN consumer products and X Games managing director. More than 250 of the world’s best winter sports athletes will compete for medals and prize money in skiing, snowboard and snowmobile competitions when X Games returns to Aspen later this month.

Approximately 59 HD cameras will be used to cover the action. The HD roster includes 20 Thomson Grass Valley WorldCams (LDK 6000s and LDK 8000s) and three Thomson Grass Valley super slo-mos (LDK 6200s), as well as 15 models from Sony (HDC1000s and HDC1500s). “A large number of robotics,” will also be involved, ESPN’s Chief Technical Manager Stephen Raymond said.

“We had to replace a large amount of copper runs with fiber optic this year, needing bandwidth to move the signal around,” said Senior Operations Producer Larry Wilson. “We’re looking at 18,000 feet of TAC-12 [tactical grade, 12-strand fiber optics), 6,000 feet of TAC-24, 5,000 feet of TAC-4 and 19,000 feet of SMPTE fiber.”

This Side Up Productions will provide three FlyCam units built around Panasonic AK-HC900 cameras. The task required new initiatives for bandwidth, electrical connections, speed capacity (100 miles per hour) and construction.

Reuters Mobile Journalism uses PocketCaster Pro software for live streamcasts direct from Ultra Mobile PCs, Linux-based Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), and Internet Tablets.

The application establishes a data connection and stream the video live with embedded GPS data from the device to a server using WiMAX. From there, the video can be propagated to a webpage where friends, relatives and fans can watch what’s being shot and see the location, in real time.

PocketCaster Studio delivers the ability to add new feeds and switch between multiple cameras, as well as display GPS map coordinates of a live mobile broadcast.

Of course rebroadcasting of a franchise operation like the NFL or the X Games would be forbidden. But soon virtually anyone may be able to outgun local broadcasters using cellphones or “bikecams”.

The Red One camera is capable of recording resolutions up to 4520 x 2540 using a Super 35-sized CMOS sensor. It may allow comparatively low-budget productions to produce high-resolution digital cinematography.

At next NAB, in April 2008, Red plan to reveal details about their future product, the Scarlet, a pocket professional digital cinema camera.

AZcentral.com, Yahoo Full Coverage and Google News have more on the Super Bowl XLII.

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