Sports venues, cell service and how it can be fixed (or at least improved)

I can’t speak to everyone else’s experience in other cities, but at least here in Charlotte, cell phone service for both AT&T with my iPhone, and even previously on Sprint with my Palm device, is abysmal. Call signal is one matter, but then there’s the issue of data, which was poor with Sprint and borderline inoperable with AT&T. Sometimes, I’m lucky to even get an EDGE signal in Time Warner Cable Arena.

Some highly unscientific polling tells me there are quite a few other venues across the U.S. where this is an issue, too. I’m here to play problem solver, or maybe make things a little bit better. The idea is not really my own though. It’s lifted from something I experienced a little bit more than a year ago when I went to Austin City Limits. Given that some 60,000 tickets are sold, it’s not unlike going to a sporting event. There’s a large cluster of people who are frequently using their phones not just to make calls, but also to access data services.

As my friend and I entered Zilker Park on Day 1, we were handed cards touting how we could access free wireless Internet, provided of course that we were AT&T customers. It was their way of offsetting what was sure to be a data crush on their network in a single, concentrated area. (If you weren’t an AT&T customer, you did have the option to pay $5 or $10 to access the network from an iPod Touch.)

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Skullcandy continues NBA relationship; Are headphones the new thing?

Kevin Durant, James Harden, Derrick Rose, Andre Iguodala, Deron Williams were announced as part of the Skullcandy NBA crew on Wednesday. If you aren’t familiar with Skullycandy, they’re a headphone maker, among other things. (They make a small bit of apparel, etc., but they’re mostly known for headphones.) In the past, there’s been a loose NBA relationship with some numbers/team names on the sides of headphones, but never this kind of testimonial-based advertising where Skullcandy got the players involved.

It’s a great opportunity for the company. Following the number of NBA/college basketball players I do on Twitter, I can’t tell you how often people talk about Beats by Dre headphones. I’ve got to think that’s in large part a snowball rolling down hill that’s just gained a lot of momentum. I think if exposed to them by the right people — like a Kevin Durant — Skullcandy has an opportunity to take a serious chunk of that market. Skullcandy headphones are significantly cheaper than anything you’ll find from the Beats line. It’ll be interesting to see how Skullcandy positions itself with each athlete, because while they do provide some less expensive sets of headphones, others are more in the Beats by Dre neighborhood of pricing, like the Roc Nation Aviators Kevin Durant is shown wearing on the site. Those go for $150.

Anyone out there own any Skullcandy headphones? Independent of all of this news, I’d actually been considering picking up a pair because I just trashed my latest pair of Sonys. Rolled over the cord one too many times with my chair in the office, and that was that. No sound in the right ear anymore.

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