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How the New England Patriots rolled out Wi-Fi and mobile apps
Sports fans today are wired. They watch the game on TV with a phone or tablet in their hand, which they use to check highlights from other games and track their fantasy league.
That works fine on the couch at home, but what about for fans who go to the games? Football tickets aren't cheap, so fans should be able to get the same -- or better -- experience when they bring a phone or iPad to the game.
At least that's what the New England Patriots think. Spurred on by a suggestion from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, last year the Patriots became one of the first NFL teams to offer Wi-fi throughout the entire stadium.
Fred Kirsch, the Publisher and VP of Content for the team, explains that the Patriots took about two months to install more than 300 wireless access points from Enterasys before the beginning of the 2012 season.
Placement of the access points is key, Kirsch told CITEworld. "With high density Wi-Fi, you cannot just throw up as many access points as you can. You're dealing with most people at 2.4mHz, and you're only allowed 3 channels, which means you get channel bleed, channel interference."
Kirsch says that the Patriots were lucky because Gillette Stadium is tiered, so they could hang the access points on a beam above the seats and paint them Patriots blue to fit in. It's a lot harder for some European soccer teams. "Some of these are just open bowls, there's nowhere to hang access points. They get really creative using handrails and different places."
The Patriots also had to add additional gear to make sure access was fast and available from every seat.
"There are challenges because of distance from main data frame. You have to overcome those by building remote IDFs -- intermediate data frames -- they're little closets can be hung that have their own switches and act as hops to alleviate those distance concerns. We added about 20 of those around the stadium."
The Patriots also worked with Pittsburgh-based Yinzcam to build a custom app called Patriot Game Day. It includes instant camera angles and video replays that aren't available anywhere else, and detailed weather alerts -- "We'll get right down to 'in the fourth quarter you might want to bring a jacket,'" explains Kirsch.
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