With mobile data traffic skyrocketing, wireless users increasingly are seeking to switch to Wi-Fi in high-traffic areas – such as the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP), a baseball stadium in Durham. N.C. Installing, managing and maintaining that infrastructure is a great opportunity for network operators, as an announcement from Frontier Communications about DBAP today illustrates.
“When people walk in they look for a wireless access point and log into that and use [Wi-Fi] while in the stadium,” explained Dennis Bloss, Frontier’s North Carolina vice president and general manager, in an interview.
Frontier installed Wi-Fi infrastructure in DBAP and nearby American Tobacco Historic District and extended fiber it already had deployed in the area into the park and the district. The carrier gets recurring revenue for managing and providing support for the Wi-Fi network, which is underpinned by a Wi-Fi as a service offering from Adtran.
“The Bulls have no IT requirement,” explained Bloss. “If someone can’t log on, we have an 800-number.”
The Bulls saw in-stadium Wi-Fi as a way of boosting attendance, Bloss said. “They talk about the fan experience,” he observed. “It’s an enjoyable experience to come out to the ball park for the entire family.”
When end users log in to the Wi-Fi network, they are offered the opportunity to download an app developed by the Bulls that gives them value-added capabilities, such as player stats and the ability to watch replays on demand. The Bulls also are looking at adding other capabilities in the future.
The kinds of opportunities that other stadiums have implemented include the ability to order food and have it delivered to the user’s seat. Potentially a food or drink vendor also could use Wi-Fi to swipe credit cards, eliminating the need for fans to pay with cash.
Designing the Wi-Fi system at DBAP to provide connectivity for 8,000 people was no simple task, noted Bloss. The park has about 70 access points and uses targeted antennas that cover just a small section of the stadium. “We had to aim and engineer it just right so there was no interference or bleed-over,” Bloss explained.
Having Wi-Fi throughout American Tobacco Historic District is expected to help attract new business tenants to the area. Employees will be able to have connectivity while they sit outside to eat lunch or go to one of the restaurants in the area.