Large public events have often been a nightmare for mobile users. Typically, stadiums and similar venues make it more difficult than it needs to be to connect to WiFi, and even if you manage it the connection is hardly reliable. Meanwhile, massive crowds all trying to get online at once can make data speeds unreliable as well. And of course, as you’re trying to battle through all of this, you wind up draining your battery.
For all these reasons, some have turned to expensive accessory options like battery packs, or have tried to set up their own hot spots using multiple mobile devices when attending events. Others have likely given up mobile activity when at a game or concert altogether (and this might not always be a bad thing). Now, however, there are actually a few indications that things may be getting better for those who would like to be able to use their phones and access the internet with ease within big public event centers.
Maybe most important of all is the impending arrival of 5G networks. This is something you may well have heard or read about already, and it’s going to become a more popular topic of conversation in tech circles as 2019 rolls along. With specific regard to the idea of mobile friendliness at major events, we’ve already heard that AT&T is eyeing stadium use for its new 5G network. The idea is to “blur the physical and digital experience” in ways that weren't possible before. We don’t know exactly what that means just yet, but even the general presence of 5G will allow fans to use their phones the way they want to at sporting events, concerts, and the like.
On a more tactile level, so to speak, we’ve also seen some mobile providers introducing battery packs and charging stations at major event venues, allowing guests free opportunities to make sure they stay charged. One of the most prominent leaders in this category has been the U.S. Open, an annual tennis event in New York City. Known for being the last Grand Slam on the pro tennis calendar, it reliably welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors - most of whom want to use their phones to track matches, coordinate with friends, etc. As one of the tournament sponsors, Chase has started to offer portable charging devices that fans can rent (for $1) and simply drop into bins when they leave. It’s a simple idea, but one that makes even an event of this size significantly more mobile friendly.
There are also entire new venue designs to consider, which is to say there’s some talk of newer stadiums and event centers being built in ways that specifically accommodate people’s mobile needs. We haven’t actually seen much of this coming to fruition just yet, but perhaps the most buzz-worthy example is the Madison Square Garden-supported “Sphere” concert venue design. In this case, the whole venue is driven by technology, and by the sound of things the performances will be complete sensory experiences the likes of which we perhaps haven’t seen before. It’s also been implied though that part of the point of the Sphere is to make concerts shareable, and to allow modern spectators to do what they’d like to do - which is to say, instantly connect their real-world experiences to their social networks and friends.
Altogether these examples - despite not being connected to each other - paint the picture of a public entertainment industry that’s increasingly tailored to the mobile needs of modern visitors.