Not since 1968 has every Major League Baseball team been on the diamond on Opening Day. This year all 30 ball clubs will be in action on March 29, the earliest Opening Day in ballparks in the United States. The fundamentals of the game remain the same today but the fan experience has dramatically changed in the last fifty years.
A fan in 1968 had to drop a dime into pay phone to make a call. Today, many fans carry a smartphone to the stands with capabilities far beyond placing a phone call. We use our devices to take pictures and videos from the ballpark and connect instantly with friends and family rooting for the home team from across the country or even around the world.
Teams realize how important connectivity is to the folks in the stands, too. “Without connectivity, our fans cannot take out their phones and consume the game the way they want with unfettered internet access,” Greg Mize, Atlanta Braves digital marketing director told TechRepublic. “That’s really core.”
In stadiums and communities across the country, Americans want to stay connected, and we are demanding more and more of the nation’s wireless networks. In 2016, wireless data traffic set a record of 13.72 trillion megabytes. With data use increasing at nearly 240 percent over the past two years and no sign of slowing, network operators are making big investments to keep up with demand and roll out the next generation of technology.
On deck we have 5G technology, which promises to be a game changer for the entire economy. The combination of speed, responsiveness and reach will do more than improve consumers’ current mobile experience, like apps that can deliver concessions straight to your seat in the stadium. Because of its super low latency, reducing the time it takes for bits of data to travel, 5G will be a platform for real time applications – whether that’s virtual reality that makes baseball fans at home feel like they are watching behind home plate or remote healthcare service delivery.
Now is the time for policymakers to step up to the plate so we can unleash the full potential of next generation networks. The FCC took an important step last week by streamlining the review processes for wireless infrastructure deployment and Congress passed a critical legislative fix to ensure the FCC can deliver on another key input for wireless networks – spectrum.
As a result, the FCC is moving full steam ahead with plans for the 28 GHz auction in November of this year. That’s great progress and we should accelerate efforts to put more of the airwaves needed for 5G in the spectrum pipeline.
Looking ahead, Chairman Pai recognizes the millimeter wave auctions are only the beginning. “One of the game-changers for 5G is that new technologies have made it possible to use millimeter wave spectrum for mobile broadband,” Chairman Pai said. “But a comprehensive spectrum strategy for 5G requires freeing up all kinds of airwaves—low-, mid-, and high-band.”
So whether you’re a baseball fan, student, small business owner, or innovator, we all need wireless connectivity – and we need a whole team of spectrum bands to meet that demand. Mobile Future looks forward to working together so that America wins the 5G championship.