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Jan 17 2019

I was there: eyewitness accounts of 5G in action. The stadium experience

Soccer can be addictive. Think how much more compelling though if you could get even closer to the action on the pitch via videos, replays and real-time stats on how the players are performing?

That was the prospect in store as I and other invited guests waited expectantly outside the Telia 5G Areena on a fresh September morning in Helsinki. Ideal football weather. Yet as well as a specially laid on game, we were here to see a different type of kick off and the achievement of  a goal with a three year build up – Telia was turning on its pre-commercial 5G network, with fully commercial services in the net by early 2019.

From the commentary box, we got an excellent view of the game as well as the chance to hear Telia’s CEO Johan Dennelind tell us how his company was rewriting the rules of communications by setting up one of the first 5G enabled stadiums.

While the invited crowd moved on towards a demonstration area to learn more about this revolutionary technology, I looked out over the stadium and the friendly game in progress. I could see a 5G antenna, surprisingly small, nestled safely in the terrace roofing and imagined the fantastic experiences that this would bring fans on future match days. Real-time information on players as well as streaming video, replays, chat or advertisements could be added to basic player statistics and bundled in a fan application.

Telia’s 5G program director Janne Koistinen seemed to read my mind. “We are building the future of stadium experience here with Nokia. We have now proven that 5G will be a game changer for sports, and for our customers, this will mean 5G powered experiences that are nothing short of amazing” he said proudly.

Back in the demonstration area, we could see this future in action. The invitees used a tablet-based virtual soccer studio application to view multi-camera broadcasts of the action in 360º and HD as well as monitoring of the players’ biometrics and movements via IoT sensors they were wearing.

5G will transform stadium experiences

Of course, 5G is more than just “faster radio”. It enables high volume video streaming, interactivity and sensor management at scale. Stadium owners can use it to monitor and manage crowds via streaming video analytics and anomaly detection. As well as helping keep everyone secure, it can assist first responders attending spectators and ensure visitors navigate the complex, find parking spaces or avoid queues. Take a look at this video to give you an idea.

Nokia has a wealth of experience in converting stadium connectivity into stadium experiences via projects combining Wi-Fi, 4G small cells and edge computing. 5G opens the next chapter in this evolution, adding real-time personalization of the experience over and above that achievable today. And as the technology matures, network slicing will create even more possibilities for new revenue streams.

5G is here to stay

Back at the Telia Areena, the friendly game had ended in a draw and the VIP treatment in the commentary box was coming to an end. Telia had achieved a major milestone in its 5G strategy.

We have now kicked off a standard-compliant 5G network with all relevant elements. And this is when the story gets really exciting” Koistinen said, clearly enthusiastic about the next steps on the journey.

We left feeling that 5G is here to stay and about to make its mark on events of all kinds by enveloping us in a personalized experience. “At least the players are still flesh and bone!” I heard someone say as we walked through the gate.

Now, where did I leave my car?

Visit our webpage to discover more Nokia 5G milestones. Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia and @nokianetworks using #5G #5GinAction

About Steve Davidson

Within Nokia's European field marketing team Steve is focused on cable and telco evolution, with 30+ years' experience in the general telecoms industry. When he's not focused on bringing innovation to how operators architect their evolving business, he may be found trying to innovate in the kitchen, or even dusting off his acoustic guitars to architect a tune or two.

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