Spurs and HPE hope to show how stadium wifi should be done

The long-awaited new Tottenham Hotspur stadium hosts its first Premier League match today and fans might even be able to get on the wifi for once.

Stadium connectivity has long been a signature connectivity challenge, thanks mainly to the exceptionally high density of population. Despite numerous claimed advances in high capacity routers, base stations, etc, user experience in high density environments such as stadia, airports and conference venues etc has generally been rubbish.

In an attempt to address this Spurs teamed up with longtime sponsor HPE to get its Aruba arm involved in taking care of the connectivity in the new stadium. The company has kept pretty quiet since the partnership was announced a couple of years ago, but now that the doors are finally opening UK MD Marc Waters felt moved to blog on the matter.

“The ambition from Tottenham Hotspur could not have been greater,” he wrote. “To build the most technologically advanced stadium in the world with an unrivaled fan experience. Working together with a diverse set of partners they have achieved it. Aside from the lack of queues and incredible bottom filling pints of beer (oh yes), one of the first advances the fans will notice is the quality and availability of the free stadium Wi-Fi.

“Having been at Wembley recently to see Portsmouth win the EFL Trophy, I can confirm it can be challenging to get signal due to the sheer size of the crowd. At the new Spurs stadium we have installed HPE Aruba technology with 1,641 wifi access points to provide 100% wifi coverage. This delivers high density wifi coverage in the Bowl seating area thanks to an innovative “Pico cell” architecture with the wifi Access Points mounted under the seats to enable high performance connectivity to all 62,062 fans.”

That equates to one wifi node per 38 fans in a sold-out stadium, which seems like a decent ratio so long as the supporting infrastructure is up to scratch. It’s notable that Spurs has made very little noise about mobile networks, although all four UK MNOs apparently have connectivity there. If the wifi delivers and the user experience for getting onto it is acceptable (a big if) then why would you need to access your mobile network while you’re there?

That user experience will probably be dictated in part by the new app Spurs developed to accompany the new stadium, which also covers things like electronic ticketing, interactive stadium maps, etc. That will all rely on the wifi network too, so a lot is at stake with this HPE infrastructure. As Waters indicated Spurs wants its new stadium to be somewhere fans might want to hang around in long after the game is over and they won’t do so if they can’t use their phones.

 

HPE attempts to put positive spin on AI job losses

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has released new research which states redundancies are okay because more jobs will be created. But, how many of these new jobs will be offered to those shivering in the dole queue?

Here are some points which few in the industry will argue with. Firstly, AI will enable new business models, products and services, which will help certain companies grow. Secondly, certain national economies will grow thanks to increased profitability realised through operational efficiency. Finally, new jobs will be created as a result of organizations implementing these technologies.

These points are reinforced in the research, respondents expect to grow their revenues 11.6% by 2030 as a result of AI adoption, while participants on average plan to invest 0.48% of their revenue in AI in the next 12 months. There is clearly a surge towards AI which is irreversible. The issue we have right now is no-one willing to accept there will be pain.

The world of efficiency and profitability is cut-throat. Throughout history, business owners have sought new ways to reduce the impact of a company’s biggest overhead, its workforce, and AI is just another step in this quest. HPE believes AI will create jobs, and we do not disagree, though the claim these jobs will outweigh the redundancies is dubious (at best).

Two thirds of respondents expect that new jobs created by AI will balance or outweigh the number of jobs made redundant by AI. In our opinion, these people are either incredibly optimistic or dangerously naive. The promise of AI has been to free up employee time by removing the monotonous tasks, though we suspect there will be numerous business owners and CEOs who will use the technology to reduce headcount instead of searching for new value. Even if the respondents are being genuine, the research does not take into account disruption. Here, Amazon is an excellent example.

Cashier-less supermarkets is an experiment from Amazon which is gaining quite a bit of attention. Should this idea take hold with Amazon finding profitability in the venture, it will be scaled. With the cut-throat nature of the Amazon machine, it would challenge the traditional industry, undercutting due to the lesser employee expenses. If Amazon’s supermarkets become popular with the general public, revenues will be squeezed in the traditional supermarkets, sites will be closed and people will be unemployed. Unfortunately, the disruptor cannot offer these people any employment opportunities. This is the price of efficiency.

This is the big issue which the industry faces. AI will create new jobs, but will those who are being made redundant qualified for them? Will a company like Pepsi or Tesco hire an unemployed customer service agent or former cashier for the newly created coding and data scientist jobs, or will they look to the technology orientated universities?

At some point the industry will have to take ownership of the logical chain of events. AI will help companies grow and capture new revenues, but efficiency and industrial revolutions are painful processes for certain segments of society; this is an unavoidable truth. The sooner industry and governments recognise progress has a nasty side, the better the transition can be managed through effective reskilling initiatives.