Underprepared stadiums starve World Cup fans of Internet fix
By Brad Haynes
SAO PAULO, June 17 (Reuters) - Brazilian stadiums finished just before the World Cup are holding up fine with near-capacity crowds but their cell phone networks show signs of buckling under the load.
In the six stadiums delivered this year, fans have been able to send and receive just half as many photos, emails, social network updates and other mobile data as at the other half dozen tournament venues, according to an industry report released on Tuesday.
The six stadiums that were ready for a warm-up tournament in Brazil last year received public wifi networks that help to offload data traffic from congested cell networks, according to industry group SindiTeleBrasil.
As a result, data traffic per person at those better-prepared stadiums has been twice as high around World Cup games, according to a Reuters analysis of the association's data.
The sluggish data service at the remaining arenas, all of which were delivered after a December deadline, highlights the cost of Brazil's rushed, last-minute preparations for the tournament.
Phone companies invested 226 million reais ($100 million) in shared telecom infrastructure for the 12 World Cup stadiums, according to SindiTeleBrasil, which said the networks "guaranteed service for the high demand from fans" during games.
Still, those present at arenas from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro during early matches have complained of spotty coverage, dropped calls and slow data connections.
The demand at World Cup stadiums is one consequence of soaring global smartphone use, which has quadrupled in the four years since South Africa hosted the tournament, SindiTeleBrasil said, citing numbers from global association GSMA. Continuación...