CINCINNATI - Big crowds mean big frustration for wireless users at and around the Cincinnati Reds' Great American Ball Park.
Many Reds fans who want to email photos or post to Facebook and other social media sites during this week's baseball playoff games are experiencing failure to communicate.
"You might expect this if you're in the mountains somewhere," said Reds fan Beth Ashworth. "But when you're in downtown Cincinnati, it's ridiculous. It's 2012, and you certainly should be able to send out texts."
The problems worsened this week as the Reds drew sellout crowds for playoff games with the San Francisco Giants. The Reds have reported their second- and third-largest crowds ever at the stadium for the first two games, with 44,501 at the Tuesday evening game.
The area around the stadium has developed rapidly in the past couple years, adding restaurants and hundreds of apartments, and wireless providers haven't been able to keep up with the increasing demand on networks.
Hamilton County's stadium director, Joseph Feldkamp, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that this week isn't the first time he's heard complaints from wireless users at the baseball stadium or the nearby Paul Brown Stadium where the Bengals play football. Besides fans at the games, residents of nearby apartments also have had trouble using the Internet.
Providers say they are working on the situation. AT&T says it has made improvements to its antenna system at both stadiums, although some customers can still experience problems when many are using the network simultaneously for high-data activities. Verizon also is working on improvements and brought in an antenna on a truck, or "cell on wheels," for the postseason games.
"It's an expensive proposition for the cell carriers to do this," Feldkamp said of infrastructure upgrades.
The Reds are working with Major League Baseball to try to add mobile Internet access throughout the park, such as many coffee shops and restaurants have.
"Our hope is to have that in place by Opening Day next year," said Brian Keys, the Reds' vice president of technology.