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Why your wireless service sucks at the ballgame

Jul 6, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT

Cell Phone

If you’re one of the people who have become addicted to your phone, you likely get a great deal of stress when you go to the ballpark and can’t get cell phone service. At least for the data. But don’t blame your provider, because it sucks for pretty much everyone.

Some smart young men and women did an experiment at a recent Tigers-Red Sox game at Fenway, and the results were dismal:

Sprint and especially Verizon became so overwhelmed that their wireless networks were practically unusable throughout most of the game. Verizon actually had several network failures during the game, meaning download requests simply weren’t able to go through.

AT&T’s network was the only one that worked from start to finish, but its performance was still dreadful. Download speeds during the baseball game dropped to a third of what they were just minutes before and after the game.

I’ll admit this has bugged me more and more in recent years. Almost makes me want to invest in one of those crank-up phone in the bag like you see in World War II movies.

You can get on Twitter with those, right?

  1. Chris K - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    I had problems with this last weekend at the Angels-Blue Jays game. I was at the ROGERS Centre too…

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      I have this problem at the Rogers SkyDome all the time but I always assume it’s because I use a competitor’s network and Rogers does something to scramble my signal…..

    • pjmitch - Jul 6, 2012 at 8:02 PM

      Maybe this will stop those idiots that sit behind that plate and call their friends and wave at all of us. You know who I’m talking about out there!!! You look like a fool…..

    • superpriebe - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    • superpriebe - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:37 AM

      Everything’s amazing and nobody is happy

      • superpriebe - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:38 AM

        Sorry for the double post…wasn’t sure if it would imbed or show up just as a link…

  2. singingfriar - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    It’s been like this for years, back to the early days of the smart phone boom. It doesn’t affect just baseball games. Try going to Disneyland on a crowded day and see what your data speeds are. Anytime you put a large number of people with a large number of data-hungry devices in a concentrated space, the wireless network is going to seriously suck.

  3. nategearhart - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    I work for a company that supports one of the major carriers. In theory, they compensate for the greater demand in bandwidth at sporting events, concerts, etc with roving towers and other means. In practice, however, they can’t seem to put pen to check and actually make it happen.
    “What the hell are you gonna do about it,” they collectively ask, “stop having a cell phone?”

  4. rollinghighwayblues - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    “If you’re one of the people who have become addicted to your phone, you likely get a great deal of stress when you go to the ballpark and can’t get cell phone service.”

    One of the many reasons I will go to the ballpark. Off the grid!

    • gloccamorra - Jul 6, 2012 at 8:29 PM

      Maybe now in most ballparks, but not for long. Petco was wired in the off-season, and it’s just a matter of time before carriers learn to make full use of the large number of towers in the downtown area. It’ll be the same everywhere eventually.

  5. steveohho - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Hey, but the network providers say they are putting up towers everyday. Maybe the build out will be completed sometime in the 2070’s.

  6. kmg1016 - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    I’m at Fenway now, and the service is ALREADY terrible.

  7. jcnbachan - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    There’s something called wi-fi?

  8. natstowngreg - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Ahh, perhaps that explains why my iPod (with the MLB 2012 At Bat app) doesn’t work at Nats Park?

  9. jonirocit - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Not an issue at AT&T park in Sf we get wifi and 4g with no issues . Maybe you need to go to Verizon field or sprint park?

    • redux23 - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      perhaps because the 4g network isnt as bombarded as 3g. the 3g network can still be dreadfully slow there. the wifi helps abate that though.

      • seeinred87 - Jul 6, 2012 at 8:29 PM

        My 4g is unbearably slow at Tiger Stadium… errr Comerica Park. I often just completely lose my data connection. Verizon is great for me everywhere else, it’s just at the ballpark that I have issues. It’s bad at Red Wings games too, I guess.

  10. areyesrn - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    so…how are reporters at the game able to do their job and update their twitter every 5 seconds? Do teams provide the press with wired ethernet connections?

    • Kevin S. - Jul 6, 2012 at 7:23 PM

      Either that or a secured wifi network.

  11. sabatimus - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    I don’t use my cell phone at games. But if I were a media person it might really piss me off.

  12. sabatimus - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    And I’m just waiting for a provider to release a phone that has good call quality. Anywhere.

  13. heatwave954 - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    Most if not all ballparks have wifi, it’s just password protected

  14. Old Gator - Jul 6, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Why would you want to spend good money on antique phones just to get on Twitter? You could surely find semi-literate idiots to exchange truncated phrases and misspelled phonemes within a row or two of yourself.

  15. Jeremy T - Jul 6, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Interesting, I was just reading an article about how Verizon is rolling out stuff to deal with this exact problem: http://gigaom.com/2012/07/06/want-to-see-the-future-of-mobile-coverage-go-to-a-baseball-game/

  16. kgsmith - Jul 6, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    Here is an idea, watch the game when your at the ballpark and send your picture messages, update your facebook, twitter and all that other kid stuff when you get home? just a thought.

  17. yankees177 - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Happened at yankee stadium for me last sunday. Facebook wouldn’t upload any pics for me until after. 4G works ok there but at least you can accomplish something.

  18. bleedgreen - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    You can order food delivered to your seat @ Citizens Bank Park…if you can get the data to work fast enough long enough.

  19. 1historian - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    I went to a H.S. bball game about a month ago. Didn’t pay a cent, sat in my seat, had the dog with me and sipped on a nice cold brewski the whole time.

    Did the cell phone work? How the hell should I know?

    or care

  20. dallasstars9 - Jul 7, 2012 at 3:31 AM

    Damn, it would be shame to go to a ball game and actually WATCH the game!

  21. karlhaze16 - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    I just liked using my phone to text my uncle jokes about the phillies bullpen during the game…There horrible and Im a phillies fan!

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