Wi-Fi not a slam dunk for basketball Maverick

NBA franchise owner Mark Cuban nixes plans to let Dallas Mavericks ticket holders get Wi-Fi access from their seats.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner, wouldn't think of surfing the Internet from his seat during Mavericks home games. "Hell no," he declares.

And thanks to him, neither will anybody else attending Mavericks games at the American Airlines Center.

The people running the center, where the Mavericks and the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars play, have just installed a Wi-Fi network. Joe Heinlein, the center's IT director, thinks selling Internet access to ticket holders would be a fine way of earning revenue. But Cuban has nixed the idea at Mavericks games, despite its revenue implications for the arena organizers.

"We want people into the games, not upset because someone spilled a beer on their PDA or because they missed a play because they were checking stock quotes," Cuban wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com. "We have talked about it, but it's not going to happen during a game. It's my call, no one else's, for Mavs games."

The center wants to become, in essence, an Internet service provider for fans other than those attending Mavs games, whether it's to check e-mail or watch specially prepared video highlights from their seats. The idea's a popular one among those running sports venues, including SBC Park, which last season began serving up Wi-Fi to San Francisco Giants fans.

While Cuban couldn't see everyday ticket holders getting into the Wi-Fi action, he told CNET News.com that there "might be lots of creative ways to get out of the office, have a system setup in a meeting room, watch the game and at halftime do some business."

At the home of the Mavericks, Aruba Wireless Networks equipment is, for now, used internally only. Security officers carry handheld devices to remotely check the view from about 180 security cameras, while sound engineers check levels from the seats rather than an office monitor. In-seat order takers use Wi-Fi handhelds to process and transmit orders.

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    Ben Charny
    covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
     

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