If there is a poster child for the Wi-Fi in stadiums movement it’s AT&T Park, home of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants. According to the team’s chief information officer, approximately 12,000 fans use the stadium’s free Wi-Fi service at every game, up from just a few hundred several years ago.
“In 2004 when we first provided Wi-Fi we maybe had 50 geeks from Silicon Valley doing their email at the games,” said Bill Schlough, senior vice president and CIO for the Giants. “By 2008 there were 400 or 500 a game [using the network] and now we see around 11,000 or 12,000 fans on the network during games. It’s a challenge to stay in front [of the usage].”
Schlough, speaking at InformationWeek’s live Valley View show last week, also said that network traffic at the ballpark is “doubling every year,” which means that his team is in a perpetual state of busy, adding capacity not just for Wi-Fi connections but also for 3G and 4G cellular links.
“You think it [traffic] is going to stop growing, but it’s not,” Schlough said. “Every year we have to keep investing [in infrastructure] to stay in front.”