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Blue Jackets cater to connected fans with Wi-Fi upgrade

The Jackets, who play in the National Hockey League, hired Mobilitie, a Newport Beach, CA provider of wireless infrastructure, to install the high-density WiFi system. The network, which will allow fans to share information via their social channels, and enjoy in-venue entertainment, is expected to be fully operational for the Blue Jackets home-opening contest against the New York Rangers on Saturday, October 11.

?Our original system was a limited, password-protected network and not a widely available amenity to guests and visitors so this is a great enhancement,? said Larry Hoepfner, Blue Jackets? executive vice president of business operations. ?Having this high-density network will let our fans share their event experience via their personal social media channels or engage directly with our social media campaigns,? he said.

?It also enables us to explore many full-featured arena applications including wayfinding, food and beverage ordering, the ability to upgrade seats and more.?

Access points
The Mobilitie network encompasses 263 access points strategically placed throughout Nationwide Arena. In addition to serving fan-facing areas in the seats and concourses, the network will also support high-speed connectivity in all of the arena's press facilities, locker rooms, meeting spaces and offices.

The Wi-Fi system complements the neutral host Distributed Antenna System (DAS) that Mobilitie installed in April 2013 to improve cellular coverage within Nationwide Arena.

Jackets' app boosts fan engagement.
Sports clubs have recognized that spectators expect a fully immersive in-game experience due to mobile?s power to connect them almost instantly with a full range of services and products. Administrators are looking for ways to increase engagement through mobile applications and quality connectivity is crucial.

Push notifications
In May, National Hockey League executives at the 2014 MMA Forum spoke on how the league uses push notifications to keep hockey fans engaged with its applications.

NHL uses push notifications for two separate initiatives ? one is for NHL news, and the other is notifications associated with games. They noticed that the average session length when someone had turned on push notifications was 36 percent higher than someone who had turned it off, said Matt Restivo, head of digital product at New York-based NHL.

The Blue Jackets are among teams trying to tap mobile to cater to fans? interest.

NHL news alerts are sent out when a piece of news aligns with a fans? specific interest, and the game notifications are automatic. Both efforts are geared towards giving the consumer control over how they receive messages from the hockey organization. For example, sports fans can customize the messages so that they only receive certain notifications.

Scoring with connectivity
The Blue Jackets aim to be among the top NHL clubs in terms of offering fan in-game connectivity.

?Additionally, it positions us to provide exclusive video content directly to the mobile devices of our fans during Blue Jackets games,? Mr. Hoepfner said. ?We?re currently exploring all of these options and developing our plan for implementation.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.