Connectivity is a Necessity Today

ExteNet helped NCAA venues keep March Madness user friendly

  • by Noelle Leavitt Riley
  • Published: March 16, 2016

ExteNet discreetly placed antennas inside the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which provide indoor cellular connectivity.

Imagine trying to squeeze 25,000 people through a door all at once.  Problems will occur.

That’s exactly what happens when you have a large amount of people trying to access cell phone data at once — smartphones stop working, cellular carrier’s antennas become overwhelmed and venue goers lose their coveted ability to take video or snap a selfie at their favorite sports event or concert.

When a venue’s main goal is to get people in seats and ensure they have a great time, cellular connectivity is key to fulfilling that task.

ExteNet Systems, headquartered outside of Chicago, specializes in helping sports arenas, stadiums, concert halls and commercial buildings throughout the United States expand data capacity to networks at no cost to venue operators.

The company has helped NCAA venues bring connectivity to March Madness venues, including Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Barclays Center, Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Webster Bank Arena and Wells Fargo Center.

Instead of charging those venues for data expansion, ExteNet charges the cellular carriers such as T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T to name a few.

“If you go back in history, the mobile networks are a macro cellular infrastructure. That was fine for propagating signals for voice calls and text messages,” said ExteNet Founder and CEO Ross Manire. “In 2007, this little device called the iPhone was released. What had been a voice network quickly became a data requirement.”

It’s all about successfully moving large amounts of data in one place at one time between mobile networks and the World Wide Web.

ExteNet partners with cellular companies and venue owners to bring connectivity to the buildings. ExteNet utilizes the telephone poles and street lights to install the antennas and radio frequency equipment for the outdoor and lights up the venues using optic fiber cables, discreetly placed antennas and other infrastructure equipment with the goal of ensuring high bandwidth seamless connectivity for the participating wireless carriers. To date, ExteNet has a vast network of fiber optic cable spread throughout the U.S. to help improve data networks, Manire said.

As Manire and his team work to expand cellular data options across the nation, he reminds his clients that having good access to data should be as vital as making sure the lights are on.

“Don’t think of this as an addition after the fact. Think of this as another utility. Having wireless technology is becoming that important to venues today,” he said.

ExteNet’s Director of Marketing Manish Matta highlighted how many venues are starting to see such data service as a “must have.”

“The entire value is to understand the importance of bringing connectivity in,” Matta said. “Visitors enjoy the entertainment through connectivity.”

The process of installing data capabilities at venues is vast. ExteNet has a sales team, engineers who map the network and installers who launch the connectivity.

Many times, the company responds to RFPs at venues seeking to improve wireless and data for consumers. Other times, ExteNet has to work with municipalities that own various stadiums and arenas across the country.

“Once we secure the venue, then we start the marketing to (cellular) carriers to connect the network on their behalf,” Manire said, noting that most times it’s the cellular companies that pay for the service, not venues.

The company launched in 2003, before the smartphone era and has evolved with technology.  At first, Extenet focused mainly on outdoor venues, but now installs data networks indoors, which is why the NCAA venues took advantage of such offerings.

Many times, ExteNet builds its networks within a venue that is being built, Manire said.

Across the nation, ExteNet partnered with over 125 marquee venues, which now have indoor cellular connectivity.

It’s all about connectivity and giving fans the ability to use their phones without any hiccups.

Interviewed for this story: Ross Manire and Manish Matta (630) 505-3846.

  • by Noelle Leavitt Riley
  • Published: March 16, 2016