Braves Fans Will Soon Have Free Wi-Fi at Turner Field

When I was a young baseball fan, I used to bring my glove and a pen to County Stadium in Milwaukee. I was looking to catch a foul ball or get an autograph or two. Things have sure changed. Now, fans are encouraged to bring their mobile devices to the ballpark where they can look at pictures and tweet.

In the near future, you might be checking your iPad rather than the huge scoreboard at Turner Field. Saying it will significantly improve the fan experience and because AT&T and the Atlanta Braves are constantly listening to their customers’ requests, the two have entered into a partnership that about more than money changing hands.

In a news conference Tuesday at Turner Field, AT&T announced it will deploy new DAS networks at 12 venues to improve service, and one is already in place at Turner Field to serve the heavily trafficked areas throughout the stadium.

Soon, Brave fans will have the ability to utilize free Wi-Fi at Turner Field with their smartphones and mobile devices. Braves Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Derek Schiller showed off the MLB app that fans will be able to watch right in their seats at the ballgame. What this means is fans can control looking at instant replays so you can relive that Chipper Jones homer. Schiller lauded AT&T for its strong mobile broadband network and that the Braves are proud to have been associated with AT&T for more than 10 years.

Sylvia Russell, state president for AT&T Georgia, talked about AT&T’s plans for network improvements in the Atlanta area in 2011. It plans to:

* Deploy enhanced backhaul connections to more than 450 cell sites to enable 4G speeds and add capacity to support more mobile traffic, like adding traffic lanes to a highway

* Install approximately 12 new cell sites to improve network coverage

* Add spectrum carriers to more than 610 cell sites to support more traffic

“Our story is getting even better for Atlanta and Georgia,” Russell said. “Our recently announced agreement to acquire T-Mobile USA represents a great deal for customers and a major commitment to strengthen and expand our network. In fact, this deal, if approved, means that we’ll be able to expand the next generation of mobile broadband — 4G LTE — from our current plan of 80 percent of the U.S. population to 95 percent.”

Russell said the T-Mobile acquisition provides a quick, efficient and problem-free solution to the impending wireless exhaust situation facing both companies while adding cell towers. Additional towers mean additional capacity which means fewer dropped calls. “We’ll be able to provide better voice quality and data performance to our customers,” she said.

Russell noted AT&T invested more than $2 billion in its Atlanta wireless and wireline network from 2008 through 2010 as part of its commitment to superior service in the area.

“We’re investing in our Atlanta network to help AT&T customers take advantage of the numerous capabilities of their wireless devices,” said Keith Holmes, vice president and general manager, AT&T Georgia who also spoke at the event. “This year, we’re committed to providing best-in-class wireless voice service to our customers, and we’re backing that up with the right investments.”

Customers will be able to notice the improvements right away, and the Wi-Fi will be running soon. Fewer dropped calls and getting your data faster is what mobile customers and Brave fans are looking for. It looks like AT&T and the Braves’ partnership offers fans a new way to enjoy our national pastime.

Rick Limpert covers sports, technology, and politics in and around Atlanta. Sometimes, one story covers all three topics.