British app could help 3G reception at footie grounds

Brighton & Hove Albion has created an app that helps its fans share an Internet connection during home matches.

Joe Svetlik Reporter
Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

If you've been to the footie recently, you may have noticed getting decent 3G reception is a bit of an issue. Well one British club has teamed up with its local uni to provide a solution.

Brighton & Hove Albion FC has developed the Digital Stadium app in collaboration with the University of Sussex, Stuff reports. The app lets fans check train times, read tweets related to the game, and more, all during the club's home matches. A new version is out today on Android, and an iOS version is in the pipeline. It could be rebadged and made available for other teams too, meaning the end of poor coverage at football games no matter who you support.

BHAFC's American Express Community Stadium is full of concrete walls and steel girders, and once you pack in 26,000 fans, getting a 3G connection can be a bit trying, to say the least. Wi-Fi isn't an option, as you'd need to install a separate router under almost every seat. Instead, the club has opted for a walled garden approach.

Fire up the app, and it'll connect to everyone else using it to make a delay tolerant network inside the stadium. It basically searches for whoever has a connection, and then shares it with everyone else trying to connect. But it'll only work through the app, so you can't start reading a news website, no matter how dull the game gets.

Here's a video explaining how to get it up and running, and walking you through the basics.

To download it, point your Android mobile browser here: http://app.digitalstadium.mobi/api/download/Digitalstadium.

Getting it working on iOS is a little trickier thanks to Apple's stricter limitations, so it's only on Android at the moment. But it should make its way to Apple mobiles before the end of the year, if everything goes to plan.

New features could be added soon, like video replays. And it would be relatively simple to port it to other football teams, so each club could have its own version of the app before too long. But why stop at footie? We could see similar apps for tennis matches, festivals, concerts -- anywhere you've got a big gathering of people.

Would you like to see your favourite team implement something similar? How else could teams improve 3G coverage at the stadiums? Let me know in the comments, or give us a chant over on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Dominic Alves via Wikimedia