AT&T takes on Verizon on Washington Capitals’ home ice

In a sign of the times, AT&T announced Wednesday significant improvements to mobile broadband coverage at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center. The announcement underscores the growing importance of providing superior connectivity around sports facilities.

AT&T will likely use added capacity as a way to convince Washington Capitals, Washington Mystic and currently-locked-out Washington Wizards fans to keep using AT&T services to get a 360-view of the live sports experience, or defect to AT&T if their current mobile carrier is substandard.

That AT&T has brought its in-stadium network improvement push to the Verizon-branded Verizon Center with better connectivity is a cagey move by AT&T.

Rob Forsyth, greater Washington/Baltimore area vice president and general manager for AT&T, said:

We’re committed to our investment in the local wireless network, and providing enhanced wireless coverage at major sports and entertainment venues is just one way.

There are interesting wrinkles to the AT&T upgrade. The owner of Verizon Center is Ted Leonsis, who was an pioneer in creating digital content during the early days of AOL.  Now owner of the Washington Capitals, Leonsis is also one the most wired sports executives in America. Whether AT&T will seek to buy favor with Leonsis as the sports viewing experience shifts toward social media and watching broadcasts on smartphones and iPads remains to be seen, but giving NHL fans really good digital throughput when they go to watch their 4-1-0 Capitals can’t hurt.

How Sports Fans May Benefit

If Verizon chooses to reciprocate, fans in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Chattanooga, Tenn. and San Francisco are most likely to benefit. In all of those markets, AT&T owns sole naming rights to stadiums, including the home of the San Francisco Giants and the San Antonio Spurs. Though AT&T probably doesn’t need Verizon to help out inside the Giants’ ballpark, Verizon does have its new speedy 4G LTE service active in San Francisco, while AT&T’s LTE service is not yet there.

Verizon has sole naming rights at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, Minn. and the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Sprint owns sole naming rights only at Sprint Center in Kansas City, which currently does not house a major professional sports team.

Comments

  1. I love it that AT&T’s press release doesn’t use the word “Verizon” at all. They describe the stadium as: “a well-known sports and events arena in Chinatown.”

    Another feather in the AT&T stadium-network cap… but probably the sweetest one of all.

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