The Arizona Diamondbacks are installing Wi-Fi in their stadium through an arrangement with AT&T.
Wi-Fi availability has been creeping slowly but inexorably into more and more public places. Recently, stadiums and other large venues have become targets for wireless installations. While 3G (and 4G) connectivity is generally available, and some venues have installed cellular base stations, the proliferation of dual-mode phones and Wi-Fi-only devices are driving incredible demand at events as fans look up information, check for video replays and upload their own videos.
Soccer team Sporting Kansas City recently installed a system in its Livestrong Sporting Park stadium, which has a seating capacity of 18,467. The stadium is set up so that fans can order food and merchandise from their seats.
Sporting KC's system is from Cisco Systems, which has been selling Wi-Fi technology for years but formally introduced its Connected Stadium Wi-Fi initiative earlier this week. That initiative comes with a few new tech twists, including directional antennas for better coverage and access points that serve smaller numbers than usual (300, whereas typical public access points might serve as many as 2,000).
AT&T, meanwhile, has installed 287 access points in the Diamondbacks' Chase Stadium, which has comparable seating capacity. Chase Field visitors with a Wi-Fi-enabled AT&T smartphone, tablet or device can easily connect to the AT&T Wi-Fi network, without any setup or login required, through an auto-authentication process.
Boingo has a contract to set up a Wi-Fi network at Soldier Field in Chicago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, AT&T Park in San Francisco has had Wi-Fi for about eight years.