Brazilian officials had hoped to provide WiFi to fans at all 12 of its World Cup stadiums. But like just about everything else involving Brazil and the World Cup and stadiums, it just isn’t going to happen.
According to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, only six of the stadiums — in Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus and Cuiaba — will have WiFi. Fans at the other six — in Sao Paulo (site of the opening match and a stadium facing all sorts of other issues), Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Recife, Curitiba and Natal — will have to rely upon 2G, 3G or 4G networks.
Last year, the Brazilian telecom trade union Sinditelebrasil said WiFi would be available in all 12 stadiums “to reduce possible bottlenecks across the 3G and 4G networks in and around the venues,” ZDNet reported.
Xinhua cites a communication breakdown between Brazilian telecoms and stadium managers as the reason behind the lack of WiFi at six of the stadiums:
Sinditelebrasil’s executive president, Eduardo Levy, blamed the lack of coverage on the difficult negotiations between the telecoms and the stadium managers.
“What we didn’t do, is not because we didn’t want to, it was because we couldn’t, we didn’t have access,” Levy said.
To provide Internet coverage at all 12 venues during the World Cup, the firms installed 3,724 cellphone antennas throughout the stadiums offering 2G, 3G and 4G service, using the same technology installed at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
During a test match last month at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paolo — which will host the World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12 — Agence France-Presse reported that WiFi was indeed working inside the arena, but “cell phone communications were all but impossible during and after the match because the 3G network was saturated, said an AFP photographer.”