I would have ventured to guess that if you asked most people they would not naturally equate rural broadband with eSports. You can imagine my surprise when I asked, during a panel I was moderating at the recent NCTA Rural Broadband Association’s annual RTIME Conference in San Diego, how many audience members were familiar with eSports and more than half of the 350-plus strong room of attendees raised their hands.
NCTA’s RTIME is always such a great event. Once a year it brings community-based broadband providers together from small towns and rural areas across America for one of the largest gatherings focused exclusively on the business, the people and the technology of rural broadband.
This year I had the privilege of moderating a panel, eSports Events: Community Awareness Plus at the show. Video game competitions, more formally known as electronic sports or “esports,” are booming across the globe, and community-based broadband providers are perfectly positioned to connect with youth in their communities by being a critical part of this growing sector.
A big shout-out to my excellent panelists Elizabeth Brown from PTCI in Oklahoma and Shane McCann from Marquette-Adams Telephone Cooperative. Both shared great use cases, which included vital data points and insights into how to launch innovative partnerships with local high schools to not only improve their brand awareness, but to essentially elevate the entire community.
High schools are increasingly embracing the eSports phenomena since it offers students that may be more focused on technology than traditional sports (football, soccer, basketball, baseball, etc.) an opportunity to build skills like teamwork, communications, strategy, leadership and of course a bit of tech savviness.
How does broadband fit into the equation? Symmetrical broadband internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second-plus (Gbps+) and low latency (including jitter impact) are critical elements to helping “eSport athletes” successfully compete and forward-thinking rural service providers like PTCI and Marquette-Adams Telephone are increasingly entering into these unique partnerships with high schools, since they allow them to showcase the value of high-speed broadband internet to a very important constituency.
Service providers are partnering with local high schools to fund gaming PC/ consoles and equipment at the schools. Some have even sponsored cool and colorful team uniforms as part of their partnerships.
eSports engagement and tournaments are on the rise and the upcoming World eSports Championship event in Romania will host 1200 players from over 130 countries. The eSports industry will grow to $1.6 billion in revenues and 650 million players in 2023. Fascinating! Games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Rocket league and others are grabbing teenagers and adults attention in rural America and worldwide.
Elizabeth Brown summed up the combination of eSports and rural broadband with a very simple analogy, “eSports and broadband are like peanut butter and jelly!”
Of course my panel wasn’t the only exciting activity for DZS at this year’s NCTA RTIME conference. Geoff Burke, DZS Senior Vice President of Product Marketing and Government Affairs presented, Your Changing Customer Base, highlighting how rural service providers can capitalize on serving younger, next-generation subscribers and businesses.
We also had the opportunity to showcase the innovative solutions that we are bringing to market like our new Saber 4400 platform, which is perfect for delivering the middle mile optical transport needed to bring hyper-fast broadband to rural and remote areas. In fact, an increasing amount of Middle Mile Grant applicants are eager to deploy the cost-effective, market-disrupting Saber 4400 ROADM to upgrade the transport network capacity to 800 Gbps and higher, over the next 12 to 18 months. Among the many highlights of show was our magenta light sabers and Apple Watch raffles at our booth, which was crowded throughout the event.
Given the success and turnout at this year’s NTCA-RTIME event, we are already looking forward to next year’s show in Tampa, Florida!
If you missed our new DZS “smart home” booth at NTCA-RTIME in San Diego, we will also be exhibiting at the upcoming OFC 2023 Conference in San Diego, March 7 – 9 and TechAdvantage in Nashville, TN, March 5 – 8.
For more information on DZS or our rural market solutions contact us at dzsi.com/contact-us.