As in many rural areas (those defined with 100 or fewer people per square mile), high school sports are a vital part of many of the communities served by Pioneer Cellular.
It’s not just fans of Okeene and Pond Creek-Hunter and Frederick, Oklahoma that go to the games – it’s the entire town.
However, due to life circumstances, there are those who want to see the games and are not able to make it in-person. For example, grandparents who live two states away. A father serving in the military overseas. An uncle working in the Texas panhandle. Alumni whose job took them to other regions of the country.
The reasons people can’t attend are numerous, but Pioneer Cellular, which is a member of the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America (LRA) program, has helped in providing fans access to the game. The 4G LTE technology is provided by Pioneer Cellular and enabled by Verizon. Rural carriers who participate in the LRA program build and operate their own 4G LTE networks using radio spectrum, core network assets and other services provided by Verizon, operator of the nation’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network. This also includes the largest 4G LTE network coverage in rural areas across the United States.*
CoachesAid.com has covered high school sports in Oklahoma since 1999 and more recently, in other states as well. Like Pioneer Cellular, CoachesAid’s target audience is in the rural communities where the larger wireless providers have limited or no service. Together, Pioneer Cellular and CoachesAid have the same mindset for culture and customers.
The most recent endeavor has been the live streaming of high school sporting events. Landlines don’t always reach the press boxes and press rows of the smaller communities and can’t provide the upload speeds necessary to push out these broadcasts to a worldwide audience.
Pioneer Cellular’s 4G LTE network does, however. The company was Verizon’s first LRA partner to launch (April 2012) and they are in one of the least densely populated areas, with fewer than 16 people per square mile. Pioneer Cellular’s territory covers more than 17,000 square miles.
In the fall of 2014, CoachesAid.com broadcast every regular season game and the first three playoff games of the Kingfisher High School football team. Each of those broadcasts was powered by a wireless hotspot device using the Pioneer Cellular 4G LTE network.
“We broadcast games live from many places including Hennessey, Cushing, Blackwell and Oklahoma City,” said Michael Swisher, the project coordinator for CoachesAid.com who also served as play-by-play announcer for the broadcasts. “Obviously some of those spots are in ‘Pioneer Cellular towns,’ but most were not. Still, we never had an issue with our signal. The broadcasts would usually last more than three hours and our signal was strong the entire time.”
That meant the grandparents in Arkansas, the uncle in Texas, the alumni many miles away and the father overseas could watch the games each week.
“The power of 4G LTE is amazing. I got text messages from friends watching from all over the state, emails from grandparents watching from other states and tweets from one of the coach’s family members watching from New Mexico,” Swisher said. “It seemed like every week we’d get a communication from someone different just thanking us. They were so appreciative.”
It didn’t stop with football. CoachesAid also broadcast several basketball games in the regular season and playoffs.
“Sometimes it’s a different animal when you take the broadcasts inside with indoor sports,” Swisher said. “You never know what kind of building you’re dealing with and, again, you’re out there in some very rural areas. But we never had to call off a broadcast due to lack of signal.”
And the people kept responding as the broadcasts racked up hundreds, even thousands, of views a day.
“They were just so grateful,” Swisher said. “Without our broadcasts, they’d never get to see those games. Without Pioneer Cellular and the 4G LTE network, we’d never be able to execute those broadcasts.”
“Pioneer Cellular is dedicated to providing our customers with the best technology to enhance their mobile lifestyles,” said Richard Ruhl, General Manager, Pioneer Cellular. “High school sports bring our community together and CoachesAid delivers a great service over 4G LTE which many people depend on – whether they are in the community or far away.”
* Based on square miles covered in counties with a population density less than 100 people per square mile