In-stadium Wi-Fi won’t be ready for 2012

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As the league tries to enhance the in-stadium experience, the key word could be “try”.

Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the NFL no longer expects to acquire a “telecommunications partner” to equip every seat in every stadium with wireless Internet access for the 2012 season.

Five stadiums nevertheless will serve as pilot projects, with enhanced wireless service and in-game apps.  The quintet of venues will be MetLife Stadium (home of the Jets and Giants), Gillette Stadium (home of the Pats), Bank of America (home of the Panthers), Lucas Oil Stadium (home of Twitter-happy Jim Irsay’s Colts), and the Superdome (home of the Saints).

So why won’t the league have a “telecommunications partner” to ensure that every seat in every stadium simultaneously will have wireless access during games?  Based on the way the NFL typically uses its immense bargaining power, the league likely has yet to find a company that will commit to spending the money necessary to upgrade 31 stadiums and also write a large check to the league on top of it for the privilege of having its name aligned with the shield.

27 responses to “In-stadium Wi-Fi won’t be ready for 2012

  1. Is this really going to make people want to go to games? Is the WiFi really going to be any better than just using your phone’s network? Something tells me 60,000-80,000 people using the same WiFi network isn’t going to be fun.

  2. What company wants to provide free internet to 70k people, while affecting its network capacity and reliability, PLUS pay the NFL to do so?

    That’s a terrible business model in place for any company to sign up for.

    The NFL should be paying the company so they can keep fans in the seats!

  3. WiFi that has the bandwidth capabilities for that many devices requires a pretty hefty investment for 4 hours on 10 Sundays a year. Not to mention the proliferation of 4G-capable devices and that most metropolitan areas have 4G anyway. Not really sure there is a lot of ROI there.

  4. Better yet, they could work with wireless carriers to install additional towers around the stadiums so everybody’s 3 & 4G connections aren’t gridlocked during games.

  5. 1) Do people not have data plans on their smart phones? Put a data plan on your tablet or tether it.

    2) Why spend all that money to go games and play with your phone? Do people realize you can’t actually coach their fantasy players.

    3) Not checking your phone 3 hours won’t kill you. Put the phone down and let the other team how much they suck.

  6. Have you ever used wifi in a sports park? I know Target Field has it now, and regular cell phone service barely works, let alone wifi. There are too many people trying to log on and not enough bandwidth to support it. Great idea in theory but the technology to handle the load doesn’t exist.

  7. Advances are being made on minimizing cell towers. AT & T currently offers a temporary tower that fits into a suitcase with the purpose of restoring service to areas devastated by natural disasters (these were deployed after the tornado that struck Joplin, MO). Similar technology will be available for other applications, like sporting events in the near future. Mobile sites that are the size of trucks are currently in use at large events like the recently played MLB All-Star Game. (they are called COWs for “Cellular on Wheels).

    I can only speak for Lucas Oil Stadium, but the in-stadium stats, etc are poor. I would love to have complete in-game stats at my fingertips, but all the local cellular networks are overwhelmed and unusable before kickoff. In-stadium wifi would definitely alleviate much of the strain on the cellular networks, but improved capacity of the actual cellular service is also necessary.

  8. For those saying that it’s not necessary… Tablet data plans are outrageous and streaming video takes up a lot of bandwidth. Furthermore, only Sprint is offering unlimited to new customers with AT&T and Verizon slowly phasing out those plans. If I want to watch DirecTV Sunday Ticket To-Go on my phone/tablet for 4 weeks of a month for both the early game and the late game, that’s is going to use up a lot of data during football season. The NFL is doing the right thing in taking steps to offer free wi-fi throughout NFL stadiums and I certainly hope that other businesses and publicly owned places step up free wi-fi offerings as well.

  9. This in-game wifi stuff is a joke. I don’t think that is what is keeping people from attending games. Its not that I, or most couldn’t come up with the money to afford the complete game experience, but I balk at the blatant theft that is parking and concessions prices. When your prices are worse than a movie theatre’s, you’ve got problems worse than in game wifi. Not to mention the loud drunks looking for a fight. I’ll just stay home.

  10. No way it’ll be ready. I’ve been selling thousands of feet of Singlemode LSZH fiber optic cable to Qualcomm Stadium. I expect a project like this to be finished around mid to late Sept. By the beginning of the season no way. The fiber is tied to wireless access points everywhere. Same idea is being used in certain retail establishments so they can ring up sales on the tablet on the floor.

  11. I can get WiFi from a hospital 3 blocks away. This shouldn’t be logistically difficult.

    Set up 50 hotspots. 5 levels of 10 wireless routers around the stadium. They’ve had 6 months to set this up. I could do it in one day.

    A router is what $25? The cables aren’t expensive. I don’t see the problem.

  12. Or here’s another thought.

    Maybe can the whole idea and encourage people to put their devices away to, oh, I don’t know. Maybe actually watch the game?

  13. If they want to improve the “at the game” experience, then forget about the wi-fi, and lower the cost of parking, food and beverages! Who will bring a tablet to the game, especially in 10 degree weather? I go to watch the games and can live without wi-fi for a few hours, as long as i don’t go broke while at the game.

  14. Bank of America Stadium is terrible. 3g/4g wont pick up anything, and half the time phone calls wont go out either (not wifi, i know). Last year, they added “wifi” but that was actually worse with everyone trying to use it. It actually made it slightly easier for 3g to work, but not once in the 7 games I went to did I actually pull up something with Wi-Fi and I tried at every game.

    If this is any indication of how it is going to be, I would rather not have the service because then they can be “justified” in jacking up the ticket prices.

  15. Nice feature, but this is still a gimmick. The market (fans) has spoken. Lower the prices and fans will come. HDTVs are the NFL’s biggest competitor, and any good business would lower pices to compete. The NFL with all its arrogance would rather rip the heart out of communities and move a team.

  16. The first time I saw this it was being promoted during the week 17 game against the Cowboys @ MetLife. I was on the wireless network the whole game.

    I thought it was great, my connection was flawless, and it saved my phones battery life.

    Your phone searching for or being on a 3G or 4G connection consumes a lot more battery than being on a steady wireless connection.

    I have season tickets so a wireless connection doesn’t make or break me going to a game, but it is a welcomed perk and helps justify the price of our PSL’s and inflated ticket price (no matter how insignificant this perk is).

  17. And for those saying “watch the game” or “put the phone down”: Those commercial breaks seem like 10 min intermissions when you’re sitting at the stadium.

  18. NOLA in Focus says:
    Jul 16, 2012 3:59 PM
    So that’s what Mickey Loomis was having rewired in the Superdome….


    Winner. Need a good laugh once in a while.

  19. Superdome has this already. Went to the BCS championship & Final Four & it worked great. Its on AT&T system.

  20. I agree with others that WiFi is not keeping people from attending games. When has someone ever turned down tickets because the stadium doesn’t have WiFi?

  21. If the league is serious about getting people back into the stadiums and generate more revenue I have the perfect solution! Legalize sports betting only in stadiums! It already goes on so why not capitalize? How great would it be to betting on the home/vistor/over/under at a stadium while watching the game? It would make the game more exciting for a lot more games and best of all the happiest place on earth would no longer be Disneyland, it would be the ticket window after every NFL game……..

  22. I’m a father of 3 and a huge Colts fan. I live 15 minutes from Lucas Oil Stadium. We are a single income family, and I’d say I make a bit above average salary for the area.

    WiFi won’t get me in the stadium. Unfortunately, I had to come to the realization that watching rich folks play football in the stadium is for well… for rich folks and apparently above my social class.

    If you really want to fill the seats, just take a serious look at what it would cost a guy in my shoes to take his family to just 1 game a year. Don’t make people weigh a nice afternoon in one hand and their car payment and probably grocery money in the other hand. I’d love to take my kids to a game someday, but I know that will probably never happen.

  23. Heck yeah, once again the Panthers are at the front of innovation in this league. It started with the 2 back RB system and wifi. Go Panthers

  24. Difficult to even send a text message at MetLife… Won’t change my habit of going to about 2 games a year, but it will be more comfortable

  25. To anyone who actually believes this is going to be free – I hope the sand helped you stay cool during this summer’s intense heat. You might want to stick your head under the shower head to make sure there is no sand lodged in your ears.

    Whatever it costs to upgrade the stadiums with Wi-Fi will be passed on to us, most likely in the form of higher ticket prices, which the team will tell us is just an increase due to the “normal increase in the cost of doing business.”

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