The offer of 'free Wi-Fi' is something we're all accustomed to. What was once a luxury, we have now even come to expect - free access to the internet in many of the locations we visit every day. It's available in pubs, coffee shops and on public transport all around the country. Yet the concept of the 'connected stadium' is not one many are familiar with.
Already becoming an established idea in the US. a 'connected stadium' is one offering free Wi-Fi to the large number of people inside. By enhancing its coverage and capacity it's possible to supply a free Wi-Fi network to many thousands of people, allowing them to use their mobile devices or tablets without any disruption to their internet connectivity.
Previously the high density of people in such an enclosed space, coupled with the steel and concrete construction of a modern stadium, has made it difficult for those inside to connect to the internet over 3G and 4G mobile networks. This has led to advancements in wireless internet technology and its implementation in large venues, meaning the idea of a 'connected stadium' is now a reality.
With fans tweeting, posting to Facebook and uploading photos to Instagram in their thousands, having a connected stadium can in turn lead to a great deal of free publicity. Clubs are able to maximize this potential further by running competitions, offering discounts and otherwise engaging directly with those in the stadium, increasing their level of visibility on social media.
Another potential future benefit for clubs with a 'connected stadium' is the ability to capture data through their own network. Anonymous data relating to app usage, social media engagement and time of use could be analyzed and used to better direct future promotions, advertising and social media campaigns. NFL teams are already beginning to look at such data and the potential it holds adds extra value to the cost of installing and maintaining stadium Wi-Fi systems.