@MLB + @ATT + @Nationals + #SocialMedia = #Fail
by Bob Fine
I’ve never been shy about making it known about my love for the game of baseball. And I haven’t been shy about rooting for my home team, the Washington Nationals, as they head toward their first playoff run. And, I haven’t been shy about using social media to share my love of the game and my home team. But, if you’re an AT&T wireless customer, and you want to use your phone at Nationals Park in Washington, DC, forget about it.
This isn’t to say your phone won’t work at all. It will: anytime before the first pitch, and if the crowd is less than 15,000. This year though, with the team having a breakout season, the crowds have steadily increased as the season has gone on, and at this time of the year, close to capacity.
The problem isn’t that AT&T doesn’t have coverage in this part of the city or even within the ballpark, it’s that there simply is not enough capacity to handle even a medium sized crowd. So when I want to share a picture of the game on Instagram or Foursquare, it’s impossible during the game. It is so bad in fact, that you cannot even send or receive text messages. Really. If you happen to be a doctor or somebody else who may be on call and you’re at the stadium enjoying the game, and Mrs. Jones goes into labor, you’re never going to know it, and the resident intern will be doing the delivery that night.
And from what I can tell, it is only AT&T. My friend sitting next to me with the same phone (iPhone 4S), but on Verizon, doesn’t have any problems at all. He was even live video streaming the nanny cam checking up on his newborns, while I can’t even send a text to my wife to let her know the game is running late.
I recently went to a game in San Francisco to catch the Giants. This is AT&T Park. That game was at capacity, but the throughput was perfect and didn’t miss a beat. You would expect nothing less if AT&T is going to put their name on the stadium.
Major League Baseball is known for being on the cutting edge of technology with fantastic apps to enjoy and to share the game. But, if you happen to be at Nationals Park on AT&T’s network, you’re out of luck. With the Nationals having the best record in baseball today and heading toward their first playoffs, you would think ownership and MLB would want to ensure the ability for fans to enjoy the game and to share the experience globally. But unless they and AT&T get their act together quickly, it’s going to be October 1, and I won’t be able to share that first pitch photo.