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Why the wifi and cell service at Joe Louis Arena su…I mean ‘are sub-par’

I receive a weekly email digest from Crain's Detroit Business, and tucked in there was an intriguing story from Bill Shea about the surprisingly enormous amount of data usage generated by sports fans posting text messages, Tweets, checking the internet and trying to bring up scoresheets at sports arenas.

Shea wrote a downright remarkable--as well as easily readable--article explaining why it is that it's so damn hard for you to get "bars" on your iPhone or Android device, speaking to Motorolis Group's Rob Todd about the challenges of providing sufficient bandwidth to entertainment vanues, and he also revealed why Joe Louis Arena's data and cellular coverage is particularly spotty.

As it turns out, all the uncertainty regarding how long the Wings will stay at the Joe before moving on to a new facility is turning off potential wireless developers, literally and figuratively:

"We have a partnership with AT&T that includes the installation of a repeater inside Joe Louis Arena that provides a very strong cell service. However, Joe Louis Arena is not equipped with the infrastructure required for dedicated, publicly accessible Wi-Fi service," John Hahn, the Wings' senior director of communications, said via email.

Joe Louis has technology for 2G devices, Todd said, which means fans have almost no Internet access during events.

Because the Red Wings intend to move, there's concern from mobile providers about investing much into an arena that will lose its primary tenant and could be razed.

The Ilitch family has floated the idea of a $650 million residential, commercial, office and entertainment district to be anchored by a new multi-use hockey arena somewhere downtown.

That venue will require its own Wi-Fi system, [Molitoris Group founder Rob] Todd said. Anything installed now at Joe Louis couldn't be transported to a new arena, he said, and it likely would be out of date anyway.

"In the past three years, this technology has gone to 4G," he said. "It mutates every six months in some way. The carriers have to keep up with it to keep up with other carriers."

Todd also noted that the wave of improved cell and Wi-Fi technology in the Detroit market has benefits beyond games and concerts.

"There are huge implications to it," he said. "It's not just a matter of creating a fan experience; it also puts Detroit on the map for people who want to bring conventions to town. They want the best wired venues. There is no site in the world that has better technology. This is a way for Detroit to stay ahead of the curve."

The rest of Shea's article is excellent, and I highly suggest that you give it a read, but now you know why it's so damn hard to do anything on your smartphone at the Joe.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


cowboycoffee's avatar

i recently did an interview with the guy who did Yankee Stadiums DAS installations. Fascinating stuff. Two things that article doesn’t mention are that 1: Right now there is a tug-of-war between the providers, the installers, and the venues as to who pays for the whole thing. Venues are trending away from having a single provider due to so many different carrier types being out there, now. And 2: The technology is changing so fricking fast. Pushing copper has now changed to pushing fiber. The fiber now has different variables. Venues that invested in systems even 5 years ago are seeing themselves becoming outdated very quickly.

There’s also some interesting stuff happening out there. The new Dodger Stadium installations will be pretty amazing. It’s been notorious for horrible connections. Now, with new ownership, things have changed. They’re even adding solar arm rest covers to charge devices.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 01/14/13 at 05:21 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.