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Why Not Add a Wi-Fi Password to the Price of a Concert Ticket?

The old "raise your phone in the air and hope it connects to a network" trick.
The old "raise your phone in the air and hope it connects to a network" trick.
Photo by Cory Garcia

Cell phones have become ubiquitous in our society and nowhere is that fact more apparent than at concerts. Cell phones have literally revolutionized the concert-going experience, for better and worse.

Cell phones allow us to take photos of ourselves to load up to Facebook when we should be paying attention to the stage, help us reconnect with our friends when they wander off, and make it easy to shoot grainy video to upload to YouTube.

One of the great underappreciated benefits of the smart-phone revolution in cell technology is how it helps us kill time at shows. No longer are we forced to yawn our way through a boring opening act. With just a few taps, we have the whole Internet at our fingertips.

At least that's the theory. If you've ever been to a concert with more than 50 people, you know the unfortunate truth: Cell reception at concerts is pretty hit or miss.

Consider for a moment the iPhone app for the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. The app provides a solid collection of information -- directions to the venue, a map of the venue -- but it's basically useless once you get to the show.

Let's say you want to know more about the show itself: Set times, weather updates, etc. All of that is information you'll have to pull off the Internet which would be great if you and a couple thousand of your closest friends weren't all trying to access the same cell towers at the same time.

It's great that venues are starting to be forward thinking when it comes to smartphones. Venue-specific apps can be handy, especially if you're the type who wants to be able to buy concert tickets anywhere you have a data connection. That said, wouldn't it be nicer if venues where also being forward-thinking about how we access data while we're at their place?

 

How could they do it? Come to find out there are options for venues and festivals who want to invest in cell-phone infrastructure.

"A wide variety of promoters and venues work with AT&T and other carriers to enhance the network capacity by deploying additional assets, such as Cells On Wheels (COWs) at events. These portable cell sites provide extra coverage and capacity to accommodate large crowds," says an AT&T Spokesperson.

"Other options, which are becoming popular, are DAS (Distributed Antenna System) networks that are deployed within a venue," the spokesperson adds. "DAS systems use multiple antennas placed in strategic locations throughout a venue to provide wireless service."

Sounds pretty technical. An easier suggestion may just be for promoters and building owners to set up their own wi-fi networks around the building. They could post the password to the network inside the venue somewhere. It wouldn't necessarily be fast, but it's better than nothing.

Unless you're the type that believes nothing is better than something, which is to say you believe we should stop worrying about what's going on outside the venue and pay attention to what's going on in front of our faces.

That's a fair point, but it look at it this way: in addition to cell phones' exorbitant "convenience" fees have also become a part of the concert-going experience. You know what would be worth one-fifth of the ticket price and actually convenient? Wi-fi access.



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