We often find ourselves discussing the “how” as it relates to mobile engagement and high-density Wi-Fi. The eager observer is keen to learn how the technologies work, how much it costs and how long it takes to return on the investment. We’ve learned that sound Wi-Fi infrastructure is a foundation which to build mobile experiences upon, and we’ve matured how we design high density Wi-Fi that confidently connects 70,000 people for the duration of a game event.
There are three keys to “how” to build a robust, stadium-grade, Wi-Fi network:
- Design 5GHz as the primary operating band
- Deploy 20MHz wide channels; reuse them as often as possible
- Control RF propagation with purpose built antennas to achieve #2
When deployed correctly, these three items are intended to deliver one primary client goal: a minimum of 54Mbps connected data rate to prescribe enough airtime for mobile devices in each RF cell.
While the “how” is crucial for building a robust foundation, the sometimes overlooked yet entirely more salient question asks the “why.”
Each business, aka the network owner, that invests in mobile technology for their constituents has reasons why. In the case of stadiums most network owners seek enablement of personalized conveniences that enhance the game day experience – before, during, and after the event – with relevant content supported by the Wi-Fi network.
This contextual strategy is conceived to remove guesswork out of mobile engagement. It helps the business determine who, what, and where to communicate with during the game event. These conveniences not only increase fan loyalty, but can also create a new revenue stream. Knowing what your fans are up to unlocks endless business opportunities.
The word “monetize” enters the discussion early and often; it seemingly answers the “why.” In many cases, and going back to the earlier point of ROI, there is a direct business driver to bring more revenue into the organization. But this doesn’t answer the core question of “why” on its own.
Instead, it is us – the fans, the people – that enter these stadiums that answer the “why.” The “why” has become experience-driven enhancements provided through conveniences that Wi-Fi has to offer such as:
- Welcoming me to the venue
- Helping me park, and guiding me to my seat
- Assisting me locate my friends
- Directing me to a restroom with short wait times
- Educating me on team history
- Showing me point of interest inside the stadium
- Informing me about players I’m about to watch
- Updating me on the progress of the game
- Updating me on the progress of games around the league
- Delivering instant replays on demand
- Thanking me when I exit, and wishing me a safe trip home
And while I’m enjoying these newfound conveniences assure I can share my pictures, videos and experiences with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or other social platforms of my choosing.
It’s within this realm of thinking we realize mobile engagement is not only designed for direct monetization as many suggest – it’s not an “evil machine” looking to extract dollars from you at every turn. The network owner is a unique position to give, give, give to the fans – not take, take, take as the cynics suggest. The network owner is building these mobile environments to help the fan know, help the fan go and ensure the fan can share. It’s only when the fan has been truly fulfilled that the network owner has opportunity to increase the probability of buying propensity from those inside the stadium.
While we’ve made lots of progress on this front – Wi-Fi remains a frontier of innovation – there’s more to learn, more to explore, and more to deliver for constituents of Wi-Fi networks everywhere.
I’m really excited to be participating at the Wi-Fi Now USA conference in Washington DC. I will be speaking on the topic of Mobile Engagement on Wednesday April 20th at 11:30 a.m. Here’s a sneak peek at my slides – I’m eager for your feedback/comments below, but if you’re attending Wi-Fi Now USA please stop by the Extreme Networks booth and say hi.