In a football stadium touted for its data-connection friendly space, there are many fans who are not happy with their seats.

Oh, they can see the action at Camp Randall Stadium, and even call a friend about it, but they can't tweet about it or update their Facebook status to upload a photo of "Jumping Around."

Don't blame the Athletic Department, or UW-Madison or hobgoblins pulling antennas out of the bowels of the stadium.

Your wireless carrier has not negotiated a deal to join the central system that brings cellular data service into Camp Randall.

If you use Verizon, which has such a deal, you should be fine.

If, like Kelly Wroblewski, you have a different provider, your smartphone can't access data inside the stadium.

Last month during the Badgers' first home football game, from her seat in Section H, all Wroblewski wanted to do was change the profane cheer popular in the student section to something that would keep everything offensive on the field.

"I wanted them to cheer 'EAT CHEESE, DRINK MILK,' instead of what they were cheering," she said.

She thought the new "tweetboard" message ribbon, which displays fan tweets during games, would be perfect, so she took to Twitter on her smartphone.

"I couldn't connect," she said, though, later, she did broadcast her disappointment via her blog, kellysdeli.wordpress.com.

The Athletic Department receives enough complaints on data access at Camp Randall that it has a standard response: The network is fine, it's your carrier, said Brian Lucas, director of athletic communications.

At issue is the university's Distributed Antenna System, managed by Crown Castle International. It allows many carriers equal access, said Brian Rust, of the university's Department of Information Technology (DoIT), and also improves signals and centralizes installation, maintenance and security. Further, its smaller antennas don't mess up building aesthetics.

But the contract with Crown Castle means no competing system — such as towers or antennas serving individual carriers — is allowed, so a provider has to negotiate with Castle for access.

Camp Randall is wired with more than 75 "nodes" — small, inconspicuous boxes — to provide wireless access, enough to provide data service to every fan in the stadium on game day.

Verizon has signed up for the stadium's "indoor" system, but other providers have not, said John Krogman, DoIT's chief operating officer.

"It is all totally up to the individual providers," he said.

UW has every motivation to link fans to their data, said Lucas, who noted that one factor in the antenna upgrade in February 2011 was the Wisconsin Football Gameday app, released this year. That free software for smartphones has been so successful, Lucas said, that it has averaged around 85,000 page views per game through the first three home games.

"Obviously, we want as many people to connect as possible, and on game day is when it gets used, with live stats and maps of concession stands," said Lucas.

The 30,000 people who gathered Thursday on Bascom Hill, smartphones ready to transmit photos of President Barack Obama's visit, were using a different part of the campuswide network that more carriers join. Krogman was confident the campus is well-wired for access, even during such big, data-intensive events.

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(9) comments

seered
seered

Good maybe now we'll hear some crowd noise. Instead of seeing a bunch of lumps taking up space twittering their thumbs.......might just as well stay home.....

deezus
deezus

Watch the game, not your phone...

Lionhear
Lionhear

If you can bear to watch this team! It's not the coaching, and it's not the talent. It's a gutless Offensive line that plays with no heart. Badgers suck canal water this year.

midwestguy
midwestguy

Sadly, today's youth culture has the attention span of a chipmunk, and literally feels "naked" without a PDA or other device to broadcast their thoughts to their virtual doting "fans". At one time, people could even sit through an entire concert performance without "tweeting" or trying to make a poor fidelity recording of the event. Turn off your phone and enjoy the game.

happydays
happydays

Maybe this is a blessing - for a few hours we can be in the moment instead of half our attention on the game and half of our attention on what our friends are doing? novel concept. Actually be totally involved in the here and now

Blatant
Blatant

Blame your carrier!!?? The UW's contract with Crown is non-compete. Why do you think they did that? It must have been a sweetheart deal and the UW knew for a fact before signing the contract that a large portion of their fans would be affected and they, once again, thought F the fans.

BLAME THE MONEY GRUBBING UW!

53562
53562

AT&T had a portable antenna system last year that allowed me to connect just fine during games. UW made them take it out when they went to this system SO THEY COULD MAKE MORE MONEY an now I can't connect...so it is UWs fault.

thedude25
thedude25

Oh the horror! Get a real problem.

geo_
geo_

Once again we learn that Wisconsin athletics is all about the money.

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