Cisco | Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2017

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Footy fans visiting the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) this AFL season are set to enjoy world-class connectivity, with a high-density, free Wi-Fi network as well as improved 3G and 4G mobile network coverage available for the AFL season.
The new technology infrastructure transforms the MCG into the most connected stadium in the southern hemisphere and will significantly improve the fan experience throughout the venue.

MCG Free Wi-Fi

The state-of-the-art Wi-Fi network is free, and allows fans to access real-time and interactive content, post and check in on social networks, use apps to check fantasy team scores and stream video – all without tapping into their own mobile data plans.

Melbourne Cricket Club’s (MCC) CEO, Stephen Gough, said:

We are delighted to be able to offer an improved MCG experience for the 2016 AFL season, with visitors able to stay connected wherever they are in the stadium.

Since December, more than 50,000 MCG patrons have connected to the Wi-Fi network.

Unsurprisingly, the longer-form Test matches played over the summer attracted more Wi-Fi users and data usage compared to the shorter BBL games  with day one of the Boxing Day Test recording the highest data use to date.

Gough added:

We have received fantastic feedback about the free Wi-Fi throughout the summer and look forward to seeing how fans enjoy the enhanced connectivity during the AFL season.

There are some big games scheduled for the MCG in Round 1, and we encourage everyone to connect and make the most of the improvements.

The scale of the Wi-Fi project is on par with the world’s best and biggest stadiums, with more than 227km of cable installed to enable Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the entire stadium.

Put into context, that is enough cable to wrap around the hallowed turf almost 480 times, or stretch from the MCG to Yarrawonga, on the New South Wales border.

Gough concluded:

This project has involved significant investment by the MCC, and we have worked closely with our partners – including Cockram Construction, IBM and Cisco – to find the most appropriate and long-term technology solutions for the MCG and our patrons.

Fans will need to complete a one-off registration to connect to the Wi-Fi when first visiting the MCG for the AFL season – and can simply reconnect on future visits. Those who have connected during the cricket season will need to re-register for the AFL season.

Enhanced 3G and 4G coverage

Fans will also find it easier to use their mobile device wherever they are in the MCG. Telstra led the installation of the largest Distributed Antenna System (DAS) of its kind to improve the 3G and 4G mobile connectivity within the stadium.

Mike Wright, Telstra Group Managing Director, Networks, said:

The design, collaboration and construction of core infrastructure has taken over two years and required an extraordinary amount of technology needed to connect up to 100,000 fans. It’s the equivalent of providing network coverage for Ballarat and Shepparton – towns with a combined population of more than 100,000 people across nearly 400 square kilometres – but compressed within the confines of the MCG. This will provide spectators with a world-class experience when they use their device from anywhere in the ground, to stream video, browse the internet, upload photos to social media, receive telephone calls and access content on apps.

Cisco Systems’ Director, Jonathon Dixon, said:

Fan expectations are greater than ever, mandating a more connected sporting venue that enables fans to share and consume relevant content and services, while engaging with more people from any device, anywhere in the stadium. Cisco is excited and honoured to be a part of the MCG’s long-term road map for transforming one of the most historic stadiums in world and creating unimaginable new experiences for fans in the future.

The MCG’s General Manager, Commercial Operations, Gavin Corcoran, provides insights for the Fan Engagement roundtable-style feature running in the Q1 edition of PanStadia & Arena Management magazine, which goes to print this week, with the digital edition to be available for download from next week on.

The MCG’s Arenas Operations Manager, Tony Gordon, also provides expert opinion in another major industry feature running in this issue, which offers advice on how to keep your playing surface in perfect condition.