Verizon tackles private wireless for NFL

Verizon Business notched a five-year deal with the National Football League (NFL) to deliver a managed private wireless solution across each of the 30 U.S. NFL stadiums.

The solution means providing support for coach-to-coach communications on the field. It will be using Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum at 3.5 GHz. Verizon won CBRS licenses at auction that cover all 30 stadiums but it’s using CBRS General Authorized Access (GAA) this fall, according to a Verizon spokesperson.  

Verizon plans to showcase the private wireless solution in a 30-second commercial spot, “Next Season Starts Now,” scheduled to air immediately after the Super Bowl LVII on Sunday. The upshot is even after the big game ends, the work will continue for Verizon’s network engineers as they deploy communications solutions across all the NFL stadiums. In a video running on Verizon’s social media channels, it talks about operating 53 headsets at one time, with coaches in booths and other areas of the stadium.

“In an NFL game, every moment matters – seconds matter – as the margin between winning and losing is miniscule. The backbone of world-class play on-the-field is communication,” said Verizon Business CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath in a statement. “The NFL understands and leans into the power of innovation and technology and this managed private wireless solution deployment is a testament to how the NFL uses the latest technology for the game.”

According to Verizon’s press release, the managed private wireless solution was successfully piloted during all five international NFL games this season spanning across the U.K., Germany and Mexico. The pilot included deployment and management of private wireless technology, testing and coordination and in-game operational support.

The NFL’s interest in CBRS dates back to at least 2018, when it sought authorization from the FCC to conduct tests using two 20-megahertz-wide channels at NFL stadiums.

Of course, Verizon’s relationship with the NFL and stadiums is well established. In 2021, Verizon announced a 10-year partnership where Verizon is the “official 5G partner” for the NFL. The companies didn’t disclose a dollar amount connected to the contract.