‘Mobile Communications’

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old-traffordToday’s breed of sporting venues is tapping into the attitudes of the “I want it now” generation and stadiums across the country are offering them exactly that. Some of the most impressive stadiums in the country (Old Trafford and the Emirates) provide on-site WiFi for their fans, offering then access to team statistics, previous fixtures, and vitally, minute by minute updates on their opponents (imagine the stress that could’ve been avoided if Sunderland fans hadn’t been reliant on delayed, static-filled radios to check how Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Hull were doing).

The demand for this service is undeniable; customers are now used to accessing the Internet everywhere, at home, at work, in coffee shops, even in the street; why should stadiums be any different? Users are constantly seeking a seamless connected experience that enables them to have fast, secure Internet access on demand. More specifically, there has been a discernable increase in consumer demand for content rich media which 3G services simply cannot deal with and which are causing service providers to consider other technologies such as WiFi.

To cope with the costs and demands placed on new venues, sports organisations and companies must create more than just a sporting venue; they must find a way to increase income to cover the exponential costs of development.

Incorporating wireless technologies into stadium operations is a growing trend in the stadia community as the industry leaders seek to transform their venue from simply a match-day location into a corporate facility, active 7 days a week that can cater for corporate functions/conferences. To compete with other conference venues, Wi-Fi is becoming an essential requirement.

The benefits of using WiFi to provide fans and corporate customers with a more interactive experience is one that reaps substantial rewards, but requires thorough planning. Stadium owners must work out how to provide customers with access to the service; how to implement appropriate security measures and access policies; how to provide a mechanism for their customers to pay for their use of this service; and finally how they can produce signage and user guides to let the customers know about the service and all its benefits.

Whilst most stadiums will probably be running their own wireless LAN for staff, running a public service comes with an extensive set of laws & regulations that have to be met. Getting in a specialist company which can comply with these regulations and provide such services as content filtering should be a pre-requisite for Stadium owners.

These extras are what will help encourage fans to turn up to a venue earlier and stay longer, which will inevitably result in increased income. Essentially WiFi will help to increase customer dwell time in stadiums to the point that fans will arrive at the ground early for the game to engage in the pre-game build up, and then stay at the stadium for the post-game summary. Eventually fans will be staying at the ground for an extra hour or two which can only add to the business potential for stadia as corporate venues these days.

Furthermore, WiFi accessibility will give the leading, forward thinking stadium hosts the edge in attracting corporate customers to use their facilities as a venue for functions and events which also act as a significant contribution to the stadium’s income.

The future stadium looks as bright and impressive as some of the stars that perform in them – with instant replays on large screens already available in sporting grounds just seconds after an incident happens. The future holds almost no restriction on the capabilities stadiums will be able to offer through embracing wireless enabled technologies.

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