Stanford University Athletics has launched a five-year partnership with AT&T to provide enhanced wireless and broadband access at nine of the university's sports venues, it announced Thursday (May 19).
Through the installation of Wi-Fi access points at various tennis, football, baseball and softball venues, spectators will be able to download information as well as post photos and other content online using their smart phones, from both the stands and the parking lot.
The university's director of athletics, Bob Bowlsby, explained that the facilities will be compatible with any Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device, with no set-up or log in required due to an automatic authentication process. This free service, he said, will enhance the onsite experience for fans, with the university also currently developing its own mobile applications.
"As the trend has started shifting from downloading to uploading, more people are using smart phones not just to watch videos and replays but to take pictures and relay their experience to other people," Bowlsby said.
Launched at the Taube Family Tennis Center as the first matches of the 2011 NCAA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships got underway, free Wi-Fi access will be available at the entire venue within 24 hours. The university's other sports facilities -- including the Maples Pavilion, Avery Aquatics Center, Stanford Stadium and their supporting structures -- will have Wi-Fi installed over the course of the year.
"At the football stadium, the access points will definitely be ready for rollout by the start of the season in fall," Bowlsby said.
The Stanford partnership is one of two wireless projects currently being installed by the service provider in the Palo Alto area, with the city recently granting approval for the construction of a two-node wireless antenna at Hotel President.
The development, which has attracted both support and opposition, should be up and running by the end of June, said AT&T vice president Loretta Walker, who added that it will be capable of serving the heavy rates of data traffic on and around University Avenue.
AT&T is also pursuing the installation of various other wireless technologies in the area, including "distributed antenna systems" and macrocell technologies, which are better suited to residential areas. Such developments were the center of a City Council discussion Monday (May 16), which Walker said was helpful in explaining more fully to the community what the service provider's plans were.
"After the workshop discussion, it looks like we will have the opportunity to pursue more outreach efforts to get the community to understand what we are trying to do," Walker said. "Our job is to work with the community."
Paula Sandas, CEO and president of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, was at Stanford to offer her support to the partnership and to the expansion of wireless access in Palo Alto in general.
"It is important today to have Wi-Fi connections, as more and more business is conducted through handheld devices," she said. "Palo Alto is the center of technological innovation in Silicon Valley, but it still has some dead spots, and some businesses, like home-based business, suffer because of it."