Ericsson aims to score with Wi-Fi for stadiums

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In its first Wi-Fi product launch since acquiring BelAir Networks in April, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) released a stadium-optimized Wi-Fi solution for mobile operators.

The offering consists of two products: the AP 5114 stadium-optimized Wi-Fi access point and the WIC 8000 Wi-Fi controller. The new offering "enables stadium owners and managers to provide fans with the same options that they have when watching events at home, including instant replays and multi-view content feeds," said Dave Park, head of Ericsson's Wi-Fi product line.

Ericsson considers Wi-Fi a crucial part of mobile operators; strategies for heterogeneous networks. The company said stadiums essentially become dense metropolitan villages during major events, driving operators to consider a variety of solutions--including small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS) and Wi-Fi--to complement existing macrocellular netrworks, which often struggle to provide enough coverage and capacity to satisfy the traffic needs generated by event attendees' use of social networking and video apps.

Speaking at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, Sheila Burpee Duncan, Ericsonn's head of Wi-Fi marketing, described different ways spectators arriving at a stadium might have their data traffic switched from a cellular network to an on-site Wi-Fi network. At the forum, Ericsson demonstrated the use of Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF), a feature found in 3G networks, to invoke an automatic Wi-Fi connection but the connection also could have been enabled by MAC Authentication or Hotspot 2.0, said Burpee Duncan, who was quoted by Computerworld.

Providing Wi-Fi in stadiums is a growing business worldwide, whether done on a standalone basis or in conjunction with mobile networks. For example, Cellular Specialties announced just last week that it is the provider of a recently deployed Wi-Fi network in Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots play football. Cellular Specialties designed and deployed the network in partnership with Enterasys Networks, a Siemens Enterprise Communications company. More than 15,000 fans accessed the system during the team's home opener on Sept. 16.

For more:
- see this Ericsson release
- see this Computerworld article
- see this Cellular Specialties release

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