Bandwidth Reigns Supreme In Professional & Collegiate Arenas

The fastest game on ice requires the fastest internet connectivity available, and this season an upgrade is underway. The National Hockey League (NHL) has updated wireless access in arenas throughout the league. As the puck dropped on opening night recently, nearly two-thirds of all NHL rinks had 5G connectivity. It’s simply a sign of the times when it comes to competitive sports—not only for fans but for teams, too.

“The speed of modern hockey is similar in some regards to the speed of change in technology and decision-making by contemporary leaders,” says Rick Burton, David B. Falk Endowed Professor of Sport Management in the Falk College. “In a hockey game, players have split seconds to make choices that influence outcomes. Modern business is becoming much the same way and while 5G sounds exciting today, 6G is right around the corner.”

arenasOf the 32 arenas in the NHL, 21 have been equipped with 5G with four or five more slated to be upgraded this year and the remainder by the following season. It’s a necessity when it comes to the fan experience. People sitting in the arena want access to fast wireless speeds, not only to keep up with the game on social media, but to check email or their favorite TikTok videos. It’s part of life for professional sports to try to stay relevant in the lives of an increasingly distracted fan base.

“In an era where it is tough to attract millennials and Gen Zers to stadiums and arenas to watch traditional sport, a few professional sport leagues in North America have performed better than others,” says Norm O’Reilly, professor of sport management at Maine Business School. “These are typically the ones who understand that ticket buyers of these cohorts need environments that are both engaging and interactive.”

Burton and O’Reilly write extensively about the current state and future of hockey in their new book, “Business the NHL Way: Lessons from the Fastest Game on Ice.” As is the case with most professional sports, the NHL is at a crossroads when it comes to appealing to young fans while maintaining its current fan base. In one small sense, faster wireless connectivity is important to the success of the league, as important as fast wireless speeds in the classroom, boardroom or hotel room.

“We are all moving faster than ever before,” Burton says, “and hockey reflects that new reality.”

This story was written by Keith Kobland and originally appeared on the Syracuse University website. To read the full story, click here.