The Problem with Stadiums

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

At the end of last month – back when the San Francisco Giants were still the reigning World Series Champions – AT&T released network usage data from the DAS system it operates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.  The numbers were impressive: 196 GB of data consumed (40 GB during the peak hour), 17,640 voice calls, and 67,390 text messages. They were also part of a trend to call out stadiums as a use case for any number of different technologies or network innovations.

–        Distributed Antenna Systems

–        Small Cells

–        Dense WiFi Deployment and Planning

–        Content Caching

–        LTE Broadcast

Stadiums are a natural use case for any technology focused on serving up lots of data in a dense, concentrated space.  They also play well into CEM agendas to the extent that connectivity is increasingly a part of the user’s experience at sporting events.  Heck, who doesn’t want to share a grainy, far away shot of the field with their friends who are stuck at home with their cheaper food, cheaper beer, clean restrooms, close-up shots of the players and instant replays?

Beyond the threat of getting beer spilled on your head or getting caught up in a soccer riot, there’s also a technology marketing risk in the stadium.  In particular, things get dicey for use cases that rely strongly (or solely) on the stadium.  You hear this a lot with local content caching since a stadium is one place where you can be relatively certain of the content that will be in demand.  The same holds true for LTE Broadcast for much the same reason; sporting events are one of the few occasions where you know everyone will likely want to access the same content.  The problem, here, is that the stadium will always represent a niche use case.  Commercializing LTE Broadcast, for example, based on a single use case will be difficult, at best.

This doesn’t mean that stadiums as use cases should be ignored.  Relying too much on them, however, is a crutch and won’t do the commercialization of any new technology much help.

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