Wimbledon 2015: Why Is There No Public Wi-Fi At SW19?

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Wimbledon explains why it isn’t adding Wi-Fi just yet and discusses the possibility of mobile queuing in the future

The All England Club (AELTC) invests heavily in its physical and technical infrastructure to ensure it remains the most prestigious of all of tennis’ Grand Slam tournaments.

A retractable roof on centre court, new outside courts and media and player facilities are the most notable additions to SW19 in recent years, while organisers work extensively with IBM to improve fan experience through analytics, mobile apps and other innovations.

But, while other sporting venues are desperate to add Wi-Fi to ensure fans can enjoy the same experience as they do at home in the stadium and target them with offers to keep them coming back, Wimbledon has no such problem.

Wimbledon Wi-Fi

IBM Wimbledon Bunker 2014 (3)The tournament remains immensely popular, with tickets and hospitality packages all snapped up by the public. But with Wimbledon leaving no stone unturned in its quest to improve the tournament, what does it have planned for connectivity?

“It’s complex,” explained Mick Desmond, commercial and media director at the AELTC, noting that the surrounding site and the “concrete bowls” that are Wimbledon’s show courts can make it difficult to deploy a wireless network. “Wimbledon is not a great area for mobile signal. Our IT team are working very closely with various telecoms partners. As part of our masterplan going forward, we want to try and make [The All England Club] the smartest site we can.

“We don’t want to do what a lot of others have done and make the claim that there’s Wi-Fi in the grounds, but you get there and the user experience is disappointing,” he continued, claiming the experience of trying to use a connection during half-time at a rugby match was difficult.

Many of the innovations for this year’s tournament have focused on fans unable to attend, but the AELTC says it is committed to improving the experience for spectators in the ground too, with iBeacons that trigger helpful notifications on a user’s mobile device.

Of course, the actual terms and conditions of entry actually state you can’t use a mobile phone while watching a match, so organisers are not afraid of someone using Periscope to live stream action and infringing rights holders.

Desmond says if anyone tried to do that (if they could connect of course), they would most likely be “self-policed” by the crowd, unimpressed at having their view obstructed by a mobile phone.

Wimbledon and its partner, IBM, are already working on innovations for the 2016 Championships, some of which could help fans who attend matches as well as those at home. Sam Seddon, Wimbledon programme executive for IBM, mentioned one particular application that resulted from a recent ‘hackathon’ that could change Wimbledon forever – mobile queuing.

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