Jay Gerber, NFL Frequency Coordination Group, Keeps Sharp Eye on RF Devices

Sun Life Stadium holds a special place in the heart of experts in managing wireless frequency allocations as a challenging RF environment, thanks to nearby DTV transmitters. So when a Super Bowl visits town, and it comes to coordinating more than 10,000 RF devices that will be used in one day, NFL Frequency Organization Group Manager Jay Gerber and his team of 58, have to be in top form to ensure interference and frequency traffic jams are minimized.

“If those 10,000 devices were cars we only have about 500 lanes they can travel on,” says Gerber. “Many of them don’t understand limitation that but they do understand the need for frequency coordination.”

The Super Bowl coordination process, and coordination for all NFL games, requires those who are interested in using a wireless microphone, wireless communications for concessions, security, public safety, cheerleaders, public relations teams, and numerous other activities to submit their request at a Website. A proprietary database then cross checks frequency requests and allocates frequency for a particular device at a particular time and on a particular frequency.

“During the Super Bowl those particulars are important,” says Gerber.

For example, during the halftime performance by the Who tomorrow a number of users who were using frequencies during the pre-game and first half will need to shut down or move elsewhere during the performance.

To help make sure RF devices are being operated properly the NFL Frequency Organization Group will first require all users to check in their devices at the entrances to the stadium. Then during the game direction finding crews that cross-triangulate signals in case of an issue, staffers in the stands keeping an eye out for unauthorized users.

“You never know how the devices are going to mix as there will always be technical issues like frontend overload and harmonic problems and when they do happen we’ll get called immediately and switch frequencies to resolve issues quickly,” says Gerber. “That’s our goal.”