Wi-Fi everywhere is becoming more than a slogan. As is evident from the infographic, cities continue to add public Wi-Fi options, giving residents and visitors access to free Internet access through smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Cities often place these public Wi-Fi networks in areas where a lot of people tend to gather for an extended period of time, giving the most people the most benefit. Downtown areas with numerous outdoor restaurants are a popular location, for example, as are government buildings and libraries.
Wi-Fi at the Super Bowl
One of the areas where these types of high-volume public Wi-Fi networks are appearing with more regularity are in sports stadiums.
With university teams and professional teams trying to draw more members of the ticket-buying public and to keep younger fans interested, the addition of Wi-Fi inside the stadium is a popular idea. Fans can use the stadium’s Wi-Fi network to upload photos of themselves enjoying the game to social media sites, use Twitter to upload comments about the game, or check statistics.
Extreme Networks performed a study during Super Bowl XLVIII, measuring how fans used the powerful Wi-Fi network installed at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The behavior of fans at the game as they used the Wi-Fi network included:
● Fans transferred 3.2 terabytes of data through the stadium’s Wi-Fi system. Fans uploaded more than five pictures per second on average during the game.
● The majority of fans made use of social networking when connecting to the Wi-Fi network, followed by usage of the Web.
● Facebook was the most popular app used at the Super Bowl, followed by Instagram and Twitter. In fact, 60% of fans using Wi-Fi at the game accessed Facebook.
● While the Wi-Fi network wasn’t accessed at a high level at kickoff, once fans realized the Wi-Fi was available, use of the network climbed quickly and remained steady throughout the game, peaking during halftime.
Wi-Fi at Sports Stadiums
Fans at the Super Bowl aren’t the only ones who have access to powerful Wi-Fi networks these days, though. Sports stadiums throughout the United States and the world are adding Wi-Fi capacity or have plans to add it. A sampling of recent projects includes:
● Atlanta Falcons. The new Atlanta NFL stadium is expected to be the most technologically advanced stadium in the world when it opens in 2017.
● Dallas Mavericks. The NBA arena in Dallas was among the most technologically advanced in the world upon its opening in 2001, and it recently underwent a massive Wi-Fi system upgrade.
● Detroit Pistons. The Palace at Auburn Hills underwent a summer 2014 upgrade to its Wi-Fi network.
● Michigan State University. A $2 million Wi-Fi upgrade is planned to upgrade the service at Spartan Stadium for football.
● University of Nebraska. A new Wi-Fi network configuration was unveiled for the start of the 2014 college football season, serving 90,000-plus fans.
● San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco’s new NFL stadium opened in August 2014, and it offloaded 2.13 terabytes of data over its Wi-Fi network during its first preseason game.
Benefits to Other Public Networks
Creating a Wi-Fi network that can give thousands of people simultaneous Internet access over a large area is a significant challenge, especially when you consider the different elevation levels at which fans sit and all of the cement and metal inside the stadium.
For example, in Baylor University’s new football stadium, officials say they didn’t anticipate students standing on their bleacher seats throughout the game, which has led to some Wi-Fi antennas not being properly angled and positioned, leading to spotty service in some areas of the stadium initially.
Still, you can expect these problems to be ironed out over time, allowing other stadiums to see what works and what doesn’t. And all of this work should eventually help cities better employ their public Wi-Fi networks too, benefiting everyone.
It’s interesting to see Purple WiFi working in the Smart Cities, stadiums and large public venues space too. The cloud-based guest WiFi software provider is making waves across the pond after opening a San Francisco office this year.
Felicity Dryer is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. Originally a health writer, she has begun to branch out into writing about technology, which has been a passion of hers since she was young. In her free time, she enjoys hosting game nights with her friends and spending her warm days on the beach. You can follow her on Twitter.