The No-Streaming Bowl
One of the negative aspects for fair-weather fans attending this year's Super Bowl in New Jersey (besides the cold and high cost of tickets) is that you won't be able to watch the commercials during breaks on your phone.
That's because the NFL, concerned about the real potential to overload cellular networks, is blocking live streams of the game inside the stadium on both cellular and WiFi.
Like most stadia, the MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, where the game will be played, has bolstered its WiFi infrastructure and all four tier-one US operators upgraded their DAS systems. But it's still likely not enough for the mecca of football games.
The NFL's decision is understandable for the biggest football game of the year, but the desire for connectivity in stadiums is still quite strong the rest of the year -- and it's of great interest to venue owners. The problem is that carriers are becoming less and less interested in the opportunity unless they are, in fact, also the venue owner.
In a new Prime Reading feature today, we explore why WiFi in stadiums isn't getting the attention it once did, taking a back seat to distributed antenna system (DAS) deployments. (See Carrier WiFi's Not Winning in Sports Arenas.)
Carriers' disinterest will most likely be a transient trend as fans' mobile usage grows and business models get worked out. We're already seeing some early examples, like Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s deal with the San Francisco 49ers to install dual, fiber-based 10Gbit/s Ethernet lines to support advanced services at its new Levi's stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (See Comcast Scores With 49ers.)
Where and when there is money to made, the carriers will always follow. But right now, WiFi isn't looking like the winning bet.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading