Festival fever prompts wireless worries

Consumers are increasingly concerned about their ability to stay in touch wirelessly when out and about.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 UK consumers, paid for by ADC, a wireless networking specialist, 40 per cent of mobile have had trouble using their mobiles at concerts, festivals or sports matches.

Of those who reported problems getting a mobile signal, 65 per cent were at concerts, 44 per cent at music festivals and 38 per cent at sports events.  

“Anyone who has been to one of the big music festivals will be familiar with the frustration that accompanies dropped calls, calls that don’t go through, and text messages and photos that arrive three days too late – the same is true at major sporting events when your updates only reach friends long after the game is finished,” said John Spindler, VP of product management at ADC.  “This issue is becoming even more of a concern as the proliferation of smartphones and next-generation applications continues to increase. The outcome is that consumers don’t get the service they want and have paid for, and venue operators can’t make the most of apps designed to help visitors while at these events.”

The increasing demand for next-generation services is reflected in the research. While text messaging and voice calls are the most popular functions to use at events (74% and 45%, respectively) a quarter of 16 to 34 year olds wanted to access the mobile internet, especially social networking sites (50 per cent), email (28 per cent), and travel information (28 per cent).

“With services like Augmented Reality likely to be much more widely used in the not too distant future, it’s concerning just how unsuitable the current mobile infrastructure is at these large venues for handling even basic services, let alone those that will be commonplace in the next few years,” added Spindler.

ADC argues that its distributed antenna technology can help operators provide the coverage and capacity needed to bring the latest services to subscribers at large events.

Orange, the official communications partner for Glastonbury, is pressing ahead with its plans for festival coverage, launching a navigation app for the iPhone today.

The app includes augmented reality functions, so that users can look at the world through the phone's camera and see useful information overlaid on that view when shown on the phone's screen.

Essential festival facilities such as toilets, information points, cash machines and bars will appear as pop-ups on the map with ‘distance from’ indicators. Users will also be able to add their tent location to the map to create a GPS tent locator, so they can always find their tent at the end of the night.

A Java app has also been developed for other smartphones, and includes a map, the Guardian Guide to the festival line-up and pop-up indicators showing who is currently onstage, bar opening times and guides to cool places to visit.

Orange is also hosting a Chill ‘n’ Charge area where people can recharge their phones, and has unveiled 'Power Wellies', which include thermoelectric modules in their soles. The company reckons that 12 hours wearing the Power Wellies will provide enough energy to recharge your phone for an hour.

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