Networking solutions vendor Extreme Networks and solutions provider partner Carousel Industries see a major growth opportunity in implementing Wi-Fi technology at sports stadiums and the projects serve as high-profile examples of what's possible for wireless in the enterprise, the companies told CRN.
Executives from Extreme and Carousel, No. 61 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, spoke Tuesday during the 2017 Patriots Mobility Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., home of the New England Patriots. Extreme and Carousel completed a major upgrade of Gillette's Wi-Fi system about a year ago, with the first-ever implementation of Wave 2 wireless technology in a stadium.
Carousel, which Extreme named its "Top Solution Selling Provider" of 2016, has also partnered with Extreme on implementations including New Era Field (home of the Buffalo Bills) and the KeyBank Center (home of the Buffalo Sabres).
Extreme has been a partner of the NFL since 2014 and has deployed its ExtremeWireless solution at 10 NFL stadiums, including the site of this past season's Super Bowl, NRG Stadium in Houston. San Jose, Calif.-based Extreme says its wireless solutions are specially designed for high-density environments such as stadiums.
Exeter, R.I.-based Carousel expects to continue working closely with Extreme to pursue the stadium Wi-Fi opportunity going forward, said Dan Tassone, vice president of sales for the Eastern Region at Carousel.
In terms of stadium projects, "quite a few others are in the bidding process now," Tassone told CRN. "For us it's really become a model. Division 1 schools, Division 2 schools – there's definitely an opportunity to also improve that experience."
For large stadiums such as Gillette, which seats nearly 67,000, "the solutions are typically bigger, larger in scale, a little bit more complex," said Mark Moretti, vice president of infrastructure and security at Carousel. "So there is definitely a market for it, and we're going after our fair share of opportunities in that market space."
Utilization by fans has been strong so far, said Jim Nolan, chief operating officer of the New England Patriots, during a keynote at the Patriots Mobility Summit. Along with using social media and replaying plays from the game, popular uses of the Wi-Fi include accessing the Patriots Gameday Live app, which offers useful real-time information such as nearby restrooms with the shortest wait times.