High-density Wi-Fi is a top-of-mind discussion point for professional sports clubs and college athletics as it impacts their ability to provide quality, secure connectivity to hundreds of thousands of fans in-venue and deliver an incomparable game-day experience. Mobility and the shift to an always-on culture is the main catalyst driving stadiums to invest in this technology, but it’s not just the fans that benefit. The network investment for in-venue Wi-Fi is a huge asset for optimizing game day operations, supporting mission-critical functions and advancing digital marketing initiatives.
For the Baltimore Ravens, the primary motivators to install stadium-grade W-Fi at M&T Bank Stadium was two-fold:
- Continue to be on the cutting edge of technology and deliver a positive experience for their 71,000 fans
- Fulfill the NFL league requirement that all NFL stadiums have Wi-Fi installed by the end of 2016
In just one year, the Ravens went from a DAS system that provided fans with the minimal mobile ability to make phone calls and do some text messaging, to a unified and robust network with stadium grade Wi-Fi that enables fans to be fully connected while they are in-stadium, allowing the Ravens to deliver differentiated content through their game-day app, including live video streaming.
A network of this magnitude is substantial and ‘where to begin?’ can be an intimidating question for venues. In our recent webinar, Learn From The Pros: The Baltimore Ravens’ Takeaways From The First Season With High-Density Wi-Fi, three Ravens senior staff members shared their best practices and the results of their first year of having Wi-Fi at M&T Bank Stadium. In the recorded webinar, the Ravens reveal:
- The business drivers for investing in this technology.
Wi-Fi is being seen as a utility more and more. For the Ravens, it was a necessity and not just a luxury for their fans.
- The design and deployment process.
The Ravens knew about the scale of the project, but the speed at which it was done surprised them – the installation was complete in less than 6 months.
- The impacts of having Wi-Fi installed and how they are leveraging it.
The Ravens immediately found out how much fans wanted it and how valuable it was to them. Today, the Wi-Fi network is providing everything from ticketing to concessions to media support to marketing analytics to business intelligence.
If you are a sports organization, stadium or event venue that is considering a high-density Wi-Fi installation, the Ravens recommend that you keep these top three lessons learned in mind:
- Have patience. Due to the magnitude of the installation and the amount of equipment being used there is a lot of work behind the scenes to fine-tune the Wi-Fi network. For the Ravens, it was season-long project.
- Consult the experts. The Ravens hired a professional technology consultant to help guide them through the RFP process, the network planning/design and implementation.
- Vendor experience matters. The Ravens chose Extreme Networks for having the most experience with high-density deployments. By doing their due-diligence they knew that their Wi-Fi network would work.
To get the full details of how the Baltimore Ravens are leveraging their Wi-Fi network to maximize their business intelligence, enhance their digital marketing strategy and bring a unique and differentiated experience to fans, check out the live panel discussion in this on-demand webinar.