Vodacom beefs up Wi-Fi at Loftus

Johannesburg - Loftus Versfeld, the Blue Bulls rugby team’s home ground, now has a Wi-Fi network to help fans upload selfies and even watch streaming video replays.

Mobile network Vodacom, which sponsors the Tshwane-based Bulls, says it has installed a high-density Wi-Fi network at the stadium to offer faster data connectivity.

Spectators at sports stadiums can typically struggle to connect to nearby mobile phone towers because of congestion on the network.

Vodacom, therefore, is hoping that its hi-tech Wi-Fi network at Loftus will help fans better connect online when watching games at the stadium.

“Our engineers have been hard at work, installing more than 40km of fibre and more than 400 Wi-Fi access points,” said Andries Delport, Vodacom’s chief technology officer.

Delport further said that Vodacom tested the Wi-Fi at the Bulls-Lions match on May 2.

Digging into the details of the network, Vodacom said Wi-Fi at Loftus Versfeld is the commercial implementation of Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) SIM technology.

This tech ensures that users’ connections can switch easily between 4G, 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi. Data sessions on this Wi-Fi technology are also not lost when subscribers receive voice calls.

However, the technology at Loftus is set to chiefly benefit Vodacom subscribers.

Vodacom explains that for its subscribers, internet use on the Loftus network will be drawn directly from a customer’s existing data allocation. Meanwhile, non-Vodacom customers will have to buy Wi-Fi bundles to access to the network.

Vodacom also says that the network was built with the help of Cisco Systems and that plans are in place to boost the number of Wi-Fi access points to 700 in the stadium in future.

The phone company also says that it’s in talks with other stadiums and public spaces, such as shopping malls, to roll out a similar solution.

Tell us your views: Should more sport stadiums be better equipped when it comes to network reception and data connectivity?

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