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Driving new revenue in stadiums with 5G

As the host of a major international football match on August 1st - Bloomfield stadium in Tel Aviv, Israel, was well prepared. Following more than a year where many live events had been cancelled or taken place behind closed doors, the opening of sports games to the public was celebrated by many, and this was no exception.

The hosting of a high-profile and highly attended event is no small task but following the deployment of a 4G LTE and 5G network, using Nokia AirScale small cells, the stadium was ready to meet the connectivity expectations of thousands of fans. The deployment, completed under a 5G project collaboration between Nokia and Cellcom, marks the service provider’s continued investment in enhancing telecommunication performance in Israel and allows Cellcom and Nokia to demonstrate the powerful capabilities of 5G in the country.

Within a stadium environment, the ability to deliver massive connectivity and coverage means 5G is more than up to the task of meeting the needs of thousands of people simultaneously browsing the internet and uploading and sharing videos and their experience with family, friends and followers.

For those who remember being unable to make a voice call at a crowded event not too many years ago, enhanced capacity alone is of great relief. But, of course, today’s Instagrammers, YouTubers and Tik Tok creators, expect much, much more. And 5G delivers on their demands while creating new growth opportunities for the many industries that may have been ‘on hold’ during the global pandemic over the last 18 months.

A new stadium experience

Much of those opportunities will be made possible in the near future as 5G is used to connect thousands of cameras and sensors around stadiums like Bloomfield. Soon, fans will be able to choose different angles from which to watch the action in real time on their 5G mobile devices or virtual reality headsets. They will also be able to see real-time game and player statistics using augmented reality applications, zoom in for a better view or watch a replay to decide if they agree with the official’s decision, before making their opinions heard via social media. 5G could even provide connectivity to bodycams, allowing spectators to watch the game from the perspective of their favorite player. This will enhance engagement for those who love to experience the rush of the live event but yearn for the capabilities they have while viewing at home.

It won’t stop there, of course, stadiums like Bloomfield aren’t just hosts to sporting events. If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to be on the stage with your favorite band looking out across a sea of fans, you want to get closer to the stage without jostling with crowds of others, or you’d like to get a bird’s eye view – 5G will deliver. Well, 5G and the connected cameras and drones that are deployed around the stadium of course.

These applications and services can be offered at a premium to subscribers, creating much needed new revenues for stadium owners, service providers and tech and application developers. But that’s not all. There are a host of new opportunities to create advertising and sponsorship deals in conjunction with these new services and applications.

“5G offers the speed, capacity and ultra-low latency to support myriad new capabilities that can be monetized to create new revenue and delivered to thousands of people within a stadium location,” said Pierre-Gael Chantereau, Head of Mobile Networks, West-Central Europe and Mediterranean markets at Nokia.

“Sports and other entertainment venues have been hit hard by the COVID pandemic and 5G could help them differentiate with new services as they get back on their feet.  As a long-time collaborator with Cellcom in Israel we were excited to showcase our world-leading 5G networking capabilities at the stadium for this game and for future events and have proved that 5G is more than ready to meet the complex demands of any densely packed location,” he added.

Promoting local and international business growth

These new capabilities and more are driven by investment in technology, and Cellcom is also now looking at ways to cultivate business tech growth in Israel with a potential new sports tech ecosystem. The service provider hopes to enable local companies to test applications and services at Bloomfield stadium. The ability in the future to leverage the network slicing capabilities made possible by 5G to test latency and quality of service for myriad services and customers will allow companies to experiment and hone their offerings, to grow their businesses.

Avi Gabay, CEO of Cellcom said: “We are bringing the smart 5G solution to the places where our customers need it. A football stadium is a place that illustrates the amazing capabilities of this technology and how it will deliver great benefits to the customer.”

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