CIO Innovation: WiFi at the SuperBowl

CIO Innovation: WiFi at the SuperBowl

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January 28, 2014
Wifi at the Superbowl CIO

By John Dodge

I just read an interesting interview in about the NFL installing WiFi in its stadiums. What the fans will do on these networks, exactly, is not precisely known so call this one as innovation on the fly.

Yes, WiFi should be everywhere, unlike, say cell phones on airplanes. So get used to hearing things like "enhanced fan experience" from the NFL if you go to games. One thing we do know is that many fans have done enhancing on their own by eating badly and drinking heavily before, during and after the game. I digress.

Extreme Networks through new subsidiary Enterasys has been named the "Official Wi-Fi Analytics Provider" for the NFL and says in its press release that how the networks will be used will often be left up to the individual teams. Extreme has already installed WiFI for the Patriots and the Eagles in their stadiums. WiFi will also be on full display in SuperBowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey Feb. 2.

According to NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, the NFL will be tracking what fans do on the WiFi networks and dumping the feedback into an analytics engine. The more they know about online behavior at games, the more value they can derive for the teams and fans.
"Loyalty programs are amazing when people have a compelling reason to share their information with us. We can take lessons from the best in world on loyalty," she says in the story.

Before any of this enhanced fan experience and business value for the NFL can take place, an infrastructure that can handle high density usage has to be built for 70,000 screaming fans, some of them sober. Of course, most fans already have smart phones with 3G/4G service from their wireless carriers, but those networks can be slow or unavailable in large gatherings like a football game.

It'll be interesting to watch the apps and social media evolve as these networks take root. It took a few years for the idea of watching sports on TV and being online to catch on. Now, looking up a player stat or bio during the broadcast is commonplace and home WiFi played a big role in making that happen.

One app that would be nice is to get the same instant replay at games you get on TV so if you miss a big play live because you're posting to Facebook, you can see it on your smart phone seconds after it happened.

What's your idea of an ideal fan app for game day?

John Dodge the community manager at the, an online community for CIOs sponsored by Hewlett Packard and produced by IDG. He also contributes to the Enterprising CIO.

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