NFL's iffy private Wi-Fi network irks some coaches

The vagaries of unlicensed spectrum are causing some coaches in the National Football League to lose their cool even more than usual.

The Boston Globe reported that Bill Belichick, coach of the NFL's New England Patriots, has been losing the Internet connection to the tablet computer he carries on the sidelines during games to review plays.

The article attributed the problem to erratic wireless service from private Wi-Fi networks the NFL installed in stadiums around the league this year. Interference from outside sources using the same or nearby frequencies could be causing the Wi-Fi network problems. The networks' installation was part of a $400 million sponsorship deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), which includes use of Surface tablets for coaches to use in their sideline game-planning.

The private NFL Wi-Fi system is different from the public Wi-Fi networks that many stadiums are installing for use by their fans. For example, AT&T (NYSE: T) deployed an extensive Wi-Fi network with enough cellular-network capacity to serve a small suburb and the first stadium LED display built to respond directly to fans within AT&T Stadium, home of Dallas Cowboys football.

Belichick has indicated that the NFL Wi-Fi service delivering the Internet access often works fine, that is, until the connection is lost. Other coaches publicly complaining about the NFL Wi-Fi system include Doug Marrone of the Buffalo Bills and Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.

NFL spokeswoman Joanna Hunter told the Globe that the NFL will "continue to monitor connectivity and address any issues as they develop."

For more:
- see this Boston Globe article

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