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Private wireless is seen as an excellent opportunity by major U.S. carriers, but as news from ExteNet Systems today illustrates, the carriers won’t be alone in offering private wireless.

Private wireless networks use the same technology used in commercial wireless networks but are for the exclusive use of a single entity- in the case of the ExteNet news, that entity is the San Antonio Spurs, who enlisted ExteNet to deploy a private wireless network in the Spurs arena, ironically known as the AT&T Center.

ExteNet claims to be the “leading privately held owner of LTE/5G and fiber neutral host communications infrastructure solutions.”

As ExteNet explains in a press release, “The benefits of private wireless to sports and entertainment venues extend from the first touchpoint to the last, including entry ticketing and parking, digital signage, real-time fan applications such as venue maps, contactless concession stands, and geo-locators, interactive and personalized fan engagement, mobile/POS and cashless transactions, safety, surveillance, and critical staff communications, increased video experiences across the venue, and real-time data analytics.”

The press release doesn’t state the spectrum band in which the offering will operate, but private wireless networks often use the CBRS band. A portion of that band is available on an unlicensed basis under control of a spectrum access system. Accordingly, wireless devices from multiple carriers can operate in that band. The availability of the spectrum also enables a company like ExteNet that may not have vast licensed spectrum of its own, to offer private wireless.

AT&T Center

All three major U.S. wireless carriers – AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile – offer private wireless. Cox also has a private wireless offering. And Dish has partnered with Duke University on a private wireless network.

The major carriers also have inked some deals to enhance connectivity and capabilities for their commercial networks within sports stadiums, although those deals typically have involved features available only to the carrier’s own customers. 

AT&T has such a deal with the United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks. And Verizon has a deal that encompasses multiple National Football League stadiums.

Enhancing connectivity within a stadium is important, considering that sports venues have seen a 67% increase in data usage over the last year, according to the ExteNet press release.

“Studies have shown that many fans attend live events for the immersive and exciting atmosphere that extends past their seats and onto their mobile devices,” ExteNet observed.

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