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This year’s Super Bowl is the first time that the NFL is offering free, advertising-supported Wi-Fi to its fans. But in order to protect the precious (and enormous) Wi-Fi network they’ve set up to handle nearly 30,000 people, officials are checking your wireless devices at the door, according to Ars Technica.
In partnership with Verizon and Cisco, the NFL created a beefed-up Wi-Fi system intended to sustain the entire crowd of Super Bowl spectators Sunday. It’s equipped with directional signals to make sure the Wi-Fi isn’t wasted on the empty space in the dome part of the Superdome, and it’s designed to withstand the thousands of streaming videos, stat checks, and blog posts viewers will undoubtedly interact with during the game.
But some of your devices could interfere with that signal — namely, any Wi-Fi connected cameras and laptops that are being used for private Wi-Fi networks. The NFL is checking all these devices, keeping in mind that some people — like the press — need their devices. If you’re found with what the NFL calls a “rogue” Wi-Fi device, the league is quarantining that puppy. Or staffers might change the channel on your Wi-Fi to ensure it doesn’t interfere.
Furthermore, the NFL is monitoring the network like a hawk. If it sees any funny business, such as a connection that’s throwing off part of the Wi-Fi, you could be asked to shut down that device.
If you’re headed to the Super Bowl, I wouldn’t worry about your phones. Surfing the Internet on your mobile devices is the whole reason the NFL set this up. But you should be wary of the Internet itself. The Wi-Fi is an open, free, password-less network, begging to be tapped into by some actual “rogues.”
Don’t use any financial or sensitive apps or send any private messages if you’re connected to the Wi-Fi. It might not just be the NFL watching your every move.
New Orleans Superdome photo: Infrogmation/Flickr