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Super Bowl may have stunk, but wireless traffic soars

At its peak, Verizon saw the number of data connections rise by 800 percent over the busiest hour in New Orleans a year ago. AT&T saw its traffic rise 52 percent during the peak hour.

MetLife Stadium ahead of the Super Bowl. Roger Cheng/CNET

The Denver Broncos' pummeling by the Seattle Seahawks didn't dampen the number of selfies, video uploads, and text messages sent from the Super Bowl, with the wireless carriers reporting a significant spike in traffic.

Verizon Wireless saw an explosion of data usage. At the busiest hour, the carrier saw the number of data connections rise by a mind-boggling 800 percent versus a year ago in New Orleans. Verizon said it shattered its record for data usage in a single hour during the half-time show with Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

AT&T, meanwhile, said it saw traffic during its peak hour rise 52 percent over last year's Super Bowl.

That there were few complaints about the service is a testament to the preparation that went into ensuring MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., could handle the anticipated flood of traffic. While the game turned out to be a snooze, that didn't stop attendees from posting and sharing at a record pace. Getting the service right at a high-profile event is critical because of the sheer amount of influential individuals at the game.

It was particularly important for Verizon, which counts the Northeast as its home territory (its main campus is in New Jersey), and has its logo adorning both the inside and outside of MetLife Stadium. Verizon told CNET that it had boosted capacity by four times at MetLife Stadium, which the company said typically gets more traffic than a normal sports venue.

AT&T provided a few more interesting tidbits from the game. MetLife's in-stadium network carried 119 gigabytes of data between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or when AT&T saw its peak usage. As the the Super Bowl went downhill from the surprising safety 12 seconds into the game, it's not surprising there was more activity during the build-up to the big game.

In total, Verizon handled a whopping 1.9 terrabyes of data during the game.

AT&T said total data usage was 624GB -- the highest volume of traffic it has ever carried on an in-stadium network during a one-day sporting event. The total data was up 60 percent from a year ago in New Orleans. AT&T customers also made nearly 55,000 calls through the network.

CNET contacted T-Mobile and Sprint for their Super Bowl-related data, and we'll update the story when the companies respond.