OXFORD and RIDGELAND — With the 2014 college football season just around the corner, Ole Miss fans will soon be flocking to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with smartphones and other connected devices in hand to capture and share the experience with friends and family.
To meet the growing demand by tech-savvy fans for Internet access on their smartphones and tablets before, during and after games, C Spire and the school’s athletic department are installing a new state-of-the-art Wi-Fi network in the 60,580 seat-capacity stadium.
Officials plan to have the network ready for use in time for the Rebels first home game on Sept. 13 against Louisiana-Lafayette. The high capacity network will feature the latest Wi-Fi and fiber optic technology with over 700 access points strategically located throughout the stadium.
C Spire and Ole Miss will use the school’s first two home football games this fall to test and optimize the network. Connectivity will be provided at no cost to any fan choosing to access the network during the Sept. 13 and Sept. 27 games.
Beginning with the SEC home opener against Alabama, C Spire will provide free network access for its customers who attend the game. Fans with service from other wireless providers will also be able to access the network for a $4.99 fee each game.
With mobile technology now an integral part of the game-day experience, fans expect to use their smartphones to talk, text, share photos and video, access social media, listen to audio files and surf the mobile web, according to Hu Meena, president and CEO for C Spire.
“As a leading telecommunications and technology services provider, we know first-hand how important these devices are to an entire generation of consumers,” Meena said. “That’s why we’ve partnered with Ole Miss to identify and implement an infrastructure solution that over time will deliver a world-class in-game experience for fans.”
Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork said the network will provide additional capacity this season and position the school and C Spire to deliver an unmatched game experience using technology in future years.
“For years, Ole Miss has been known as a ‘bucket list’ game-day destination and it is our responsibility to improve the ultimate fan experience for our customers year in and year out,” Bjork said. “We welcome feedback on everything we do and our extensive fan research has helped us identify a current and future need and there is no better partner than C Spire to deliver this connectivity to our fans.”
Meena said the stadium network uses a state-of-the-art engineering design that will provide more bandwidth, faster speeds and higher quality to help support the school’s digital engagement initiatives in the coming years.
Bjork said school officials understand that as technology improves, fans expect to have more memorable and immersive game-day experiences using connected devices. “We want to keep the game-day experience new and fresh – so finding partners like C Spire who are committed to continuous improvement is crucial to the success of our innovation efforts,” he said.
While some SEC schools have taken recent steps to improve wireless phone service for fans, others, like Ole Miss, have added additional Wi-Fi communications networking to provide more robust in-stadium Internet access before, during and after games.