The moment is key for sporting events, specifically for soccer. This sport, which has been king in many countries for decades, could be facing a crisis of confidence. Among the youngest there is a tendency to enjoy live shows on Twitch, watch gameplays, esports or simply videos of their favorite youtuber. This means that traditional sports, such as soccer, run the risk of losing fans. And both in a broadcast of a game and in a football stadium, added incentives are needed to retain the public.

In this sense, 5G can help create new experiences for spectators in a football stadium. New technologies, such as virtual reality, materialize with a new generation network, thanks to speed and low latency. But, in addition, there is another element that can stimulate the public. This will be able to record and broadcast live moments of the game, so that new viewers are generated on social networks.

Uploading high-quality video from a large number of smartphones from a stadium is only possible with 5G. According to Ericsson data, venues where sporting events are held experience mobile data usage growth of 67% each year. This indicates the usefulness of deploying last generation networks in stadiums and fields, so that people have a fluid connection.

The advantages of 5G deployed in a football stadium

It must be taken into account that the network solutions that currently exist in a football stadium do not scale well. Adding capacity to the network requires an expansion that implies an exhaustive deployment of resources.

The move to 5G will make it possible to optimize the deployment of antennas and small cells to boost the capacity and coverage of stadiums. The best known advantage of the new generation of networks is the increase in speed. With the new network, transfer rates reach 1 Gbps, although the average experience per user is expected to be 500 Mbps. As for the maximum peaks, they are around 20 Gbps.

These levels are several times higher than those enjoyed with 4G and will allow greater video transmission capacity, greater upload capacity to the network, and will support 360-degree images. But it is not the only contribution to 5G football. While now, in mobile coverage we have 50 milliseconds of latency, the delay will be reduced to 1-5 milliseconds with the new infrastructure.

Low latency is necessary for the smooth operation of virtual reality experiences. Although it is not necessary to go to futuristic developments. The simple fact of having a true connected stadium, where all users can use their smartphone freely, is achieved with 5G. The new standard allows the simultaneous connection of 1 million devices per square kilometer. Instead, 4G supports a maximum of 100,000 terminals. And keep in mind that in big sporting events many photos are uploaded to social networks, videos are published and broadcast and even simply chat with other people. The goal here would simply be to reduce the frustration of fans that when they want to post content about the game they can’t.

A world of possibilities for viewers

5G football will imply a series of amenities in stadiums. Virtual reality is perhaps the most striking novelty anticipated. But the intensive use that users will make of their mobile devices during sporting events is also important.

Virtual reality

One of the challenges that a football stadium has to attract the public is to offer an attractive experience. So far this has been easy. The matches provided the experience, while the fans of the spectators were the driving force behind it. But in the future this may not be enough. The huge amount of information we receive constantly disperses the potential audience. The sources of entertainment are many and you have to choose between all of them.

That is why the stadiums want to have the most succulent option. And this includes making improvements to what they offered so far. Virtual reality seeks to achieve an immersive experience inside the stadium. This can be planted with 360-degree cameras and spectators can put on their glasses to be in the point of view of the corner, the goal or any other place.

The spectator can even sneak into moments of emotion, such as the celebration of a title, in the midst of the players, in the locker room. In this way, those attending the football stadium will be more participants in the sporting event. But this can only be done with a solid connection, like the one provided by 5G.

Live streaming

The new network will also mean an empowerment of viewers. It will allow them to become broadcasters or creators of live content. Thanks to the speed of 5G and the huge number of terminals it supports connected simultaneously, users will be able to generate videos, live broadcasts or analysis in real time.

In this way, streaming can become another element of the experience of going to a football stadium. If this is combined with augmented reality, viewers’ live streams will acquire even greater added value. An enrichment of the image of the party that will be attractive to many people.

The Camp Nou, a football stadium with 5G coverage

One of the pioneering projects in providing 5G coverage to a football stadium was the implementation of the new network at the Camp Nou. The initiative, developed between Telefónica and FC Barcelona and with the collaboration of Ericsson, deployed the new telecommunications standard in the stands and on the field.

The spectator could watch the game almost from the goal or near the benches, thanks to the virtual reality glasses. The idea was to convey the feeling of being in the field. It should not be forgotten that the Camp Nou can accommodate more than 90,000 spectators, which makes it a huge testing ground. 5G makes it easy to upload heavy videos, such as 360-degree and 4K images. A server, installed as edge computing, enables agile signal processing and delivery. By being closer to the users, the virtual reality immersion experience is more fluid. It is one of the benefits provided by the new connectivity.

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