Better Wi-Fi sought for stadium, convention center

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Improved Wi-Fi service should be available at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center by the end of the year, and in time for Indianapolis’ hosting of the 2012 Super Bowl in February.

The Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, which operates the two facilities, on Tuesday posted a request for proposals to upgrade the service.

In addition to better Wi-Fi, the RFP calls for the installation of a distributed antenna system at the convention center and improving the existing DAS at the stadium. DAS is a network of antenna nodes that provides the wireless service within a specific area or structure.

Proposals will be received until June 10, and all systems at both the stadium and convention center should be fully operational by Nov. 15, the RFP said.

“If you look at the calendar, you’ll know why we’re doing this,” said CIB Executive Director Barney Levengood, referring to Super Bowl XLVI, scheduled for Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Both the stadium and convention center are equipped with Wi-Fi, but the improvements would provide for quicker and more easily accessible service.

For the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, which markets the city to meeting planners, the benefits of the upgrades extend beyond the Super Bowl.

“It’s a selling factor,” ICVA spokesman Chris Gahl said. “From our perspective, anything that we can do collectively as a destination to stay competitive or gain a competitive edge is a positive.”

CIB is considering a five-year contract for the providers of the Wi-Fi service with the option for an additional five-year extension.

Selected providers will pay a licensing fee to the CIB, which generates revenue from the agreements.

CIB has existing DAS agreements with AT&T, Sprint and Verizon at Lucas Oil Stadium, and a contract with Las Vegas-based Smart City Holdings LLC to provide and manage Internet and data services at both the stadium and convention center.

AT&T and Verizon, for instance, currently pay CIB an annual license fee of about $80,000, according to their current contracts.

Smart City pays CIB a percentage of revenue it generates from providing Wi-Fi at both the stadium and convention center. CIB can earn as much as $88,500 annually if Smart City generates $405,000 in revenue, according to the current contract.



  • re: the missing facts
    Hi Joe- The technology that you refer to not only exists, it has been in place and being used all over the world. High capacity and large scale wireless networks are nothing new. It can be the exact same tech as they are asking for now in this RFP, just use a different business model. And it is not the city who would need to provide that tech. It would be the vendor who would manage the wireless network. The city would simply sit back, allow the vendor to put their system in place and get a residual and a license fee just as they are doing now with the pay for play model. But the pay for play model is a dying business model and that is why it is being moved away from as an industry standard. I would also add that you need only ask any meeting planner what the top 5 things that attendees ask for. They will tell you that at the top of that list is FREE WiFi. If the point of this RFP is to make these locations (and therefore the city of Indianapolis) more attractive and competitive for conventions, then why would we not want to provide what they are asking for especially when it would cost the city nothing?
  • but you are missing some important facts..
    That's easy to say for Starbucks and McDonalds, as they only need to supply internet for 60 people at once at any given time. The Indianapolis Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium needs to supply enough bandwidth for thousands of people accessing the internet all at once. It isn't antiquated or old school, it's just based on the limits of technology.

    Why do you think cell phone companies charge you for data plans to access the internet? This is a similar business practice.
    • Look at the future of business
      I think that it is sad that Indianapolis leaders keep sticking to antiquated business models instead of looking at what the business leaders of the country are doing. Sticking to this old school thinking would only make the CIB $88,500 annually with the current fee based WiFi. Where as a FREE sponsored based business model could potentially make the CIB Millions annualy. Yes, I said MILIONS. There is a reason why Starbucks no longer charges for WiFi access at their North American locations. There is a reason Why McDonald’s in North America is putting free WiFi Access in all of their locations. It is the same reason Why Bing, Google and Yahoo also offer free WiFi zones. They make money in a way that the fee based model never will. The old dogs keep to the fee based models and don’t want to move past that because they would then have to retool how they think and do business. But I assure you, it pays off in a big way and that is why the big dogs are moving to that model.

      It would seem that the RFP was set by consultants who are only familiar with the dying business model of “pay for play” WiFi. And having only 10 days for such an important and large project would lead one to believe that the CIB would prefer to keep the current providers in place instead of looking at the future and keep current with mobile consumer trends.

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