Stanford teams with AT&T to enhance sports-venue Wi-Fi

Free access points to be installed at nine sports facilities

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."

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Like this comment
Posted by free for everyone?
a resident of Stanford
on May 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Is this free for everyone? Or only AT&T wireless customers?

Are there any NIMBY whiner groups yet?

Like this comment
Posted by Looking-For-Regional-Wireless
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

This is the sort of thing that we should expect to see in the coming years, as wireless continues to march forward.

However, the article didn't exactly provide all the details that need reporting. For instance, is this service available only during the sporting events? If so, how long before/after the event will it available to users?

And then there is this sentence--

> who added that it will be capable of serving the heavy rates of
> data traffic on and around University Avenue.

If the service is not on 7/24/365. why would the AT&T representative expect anyone to get excited about a little WiFi service on University Avenue whenever there is a sporting event at the Stanford Stadium?

Note to AT&T--what we're really looking for is a regional/metropolitan wireless network, not a patchwork quilt of hot spots. Can you folks at AT&T do something about that?

Like this comment
Posted by free for everyone?
a resident of Stanford
on May 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm

If AT&T sets up a free Wifi hotspot around every new cellular antenna they build around town, I wonder if that will shut up the NIMBYs.

Like this comment
Posted by I'm a NIMBY
a resident of Stanford
on May 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Says a lot about what a once great university now considers important. Sports.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on May 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm


These are separate projects . Hotel President is not for Stanford sports.

Like this comment
Posted by Looking-For-Regional-Wireless
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm

> Hotel President is not for Stanford sports.

That's obvious from reading the article. Why bring the Hotel President into this?

Like this comment
Posted by chirs
a resident of University South
on May 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm


You are the one confusing University Avenue with Stanford sports.
Reread your post. I hope you did not go to Stanford.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Stanford
on May 20, 2011 at 3:01 am

I think this is wonderful. As it stands, when the once-rare victory occured at the Stadium, it was hard to call or send texts out of there. (It really was as if the internet was just a set of tubes). Hopefully, with this program's implementation, people can choose to upload their updates onto facebook or twitter using wifi instead!

Like this comment
Posted by paneighbor
a resident of University South
on May 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

LFRW - AT&T tried to install a macro cell site at St. Albert's Church that would have dramatically improved coverage in that neighborhood extending to downtown, but the NIMBYs killed it.

AT&T did get through a WiFi spot at the Hotel President downtown, but not without another NIMBY battle.

AT&T also has a plan to install DAS throughout Palo Alto that would siginificantly improve coverage in the region - but the NIMBY reaction is bound to drive the press coverage on this, while the rest of us look for the same thing you want - better coverage throughout the region.

If you're looking for regional wireless, as is your name on this blog, you'd start by letting the Palo Alto City Council and Planning Commissioners know that the NIMBYs are loud but don't speak for everyone.

Like this comment
Posted by MV resident
a resident of Mountain View
on May 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

@free for everyone?

It appears to be free for anyone, not just AT&T Wireless customers. They mention any WiFi-enabled mobile device which would seem to describe an iPod touch, for example.

Note that AT&T Park in San Francisco has free WiFi as well. I have used my iPod touch during Giants games with no authentication. I am not an AT&T customer.

Like this comment
Posted by I'm a NIMBY
a resident of Stanford
on May 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Gee the Chamber of Commerce is so happy that AT&T and Stanford have gotten together. What a surprise. Any other mega corporations they want to support?
I wonder what happened to going to a game and just enjoying what you see. And talking about it afterwards. i know, that's so 20th century.

Like this comment
Posted by Alan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm

DeSean Jackson visited Paly yesterday
Web Link

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