The NFL Draft 2023 is getting a major upgrade thanks to Verizon — here's how

NFL Draft Verizon Matsing balls
(Image credit: SOPA Images, Getty / Tom's Guide)

If you’re attending the NFL Draft 2023, you’ll have to cope with large crowds, expensive parking and overpriced food. But as long as you’re a Verizon customer with a 5G smartphone, there’s a consolation prize: your internet speeds should be stellar. 

Ahead of this year’s NFL draft, which is expected to draw more than 300,000 fans to the largest stage in the event’s history, Verizon outfitted the outdoor Kansas City, Missouri, venue with temporary support for the event. In addition to recent network upgrades that brought 5G Ultra Wideband to a majority of the market, Verizon has stationed several cell sites across the area the draft is taking place over three days beginning this Thursday (April 27).

These sites take the form of MatSing balls which, as a unit, look like two inflatable balloons perched on a scissor lift. The balls, doubling as Verizon billboards, hold antennas for 5G and 4G LTE. When raised where a concentrated crowd has unobstructed line of sight, the MatSing balls can help customers enjoy reliable cellular service despite abnormal bandwidth stress.

Whether it’s a major sporting event or music festival, cellular internet speeds struggle when stretched among a surge of smartphones. Permanent MatSing balls have been installed in venues that regularly see crowds, but Verizon’s portable units introduce a solution for one-time occurrences such as the NFL Draft.  

And it’s not just for the benefit of fans. While these MatSing units are especially essential for emergency response to areas that suffered a hurricane, tornado or other unexpected disasters, they’re a safeguard for planned public safety operations, too.

Testing 5G speeds at the NFL Draft 2023

5G test speeds at NFL Draft 2023

(Image credit: Future)

I tested the 5G speeds on my iPhone 14 Pro Max at the NFL Draft area standing beneath one of the MatSing units. The download speeds reached 3,949 Mbps (approximately 3.95 Gbps) while the upload speeds reached 153 Mbps. 

These speeds are outstanding, if not the best I’ve ever tested. Between the new 5G Ultra Wideband infrastructure and temporary MatSing unit, Verizon put me in an optimal position to download movies, stream live to social media or enjoy cloud gaming on a 5G smartphone

That said, there were very few people in the testing area. The day of the NFL Draft, there will be hundreds of thousands of football fans sharing the antennas. A majority of those people won’t be stressing the internet abilities of their 5G handsets — there’s one of the year’s most anticipated sports events happening in front of them, after all — but they still shouldn’t struggle with connectivity.

So, whether it’s to call a ride share, search where to get the best Kansas City BBQ, watch highlight reels of draft picks on YouTube or even FaceTime a friend to show them the festivities, Verizon has ensured that its customers at the draft won’t need to think twice about the quality of their cellular connectivity.

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Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.