Great guest post by John Griffin, Head of Ericsson Ireland.
As fans, we expect a lot from live sporting events. Whether we’re at the match, or watching the action on our TVs at home, we demand a full immersive experience that brings us closer to the action – the blood, sweat and tears.
Growing up in Ireland, Gaelic football is a sport that holds a special place in the hearts of Irish people and with the new season already underway, it’s looking like another exciting year. Yet, with the emergence of 4G and 5G, the fan experience is changing at a rapid pace. Audiences in stadiums and arenas today want to be able to send pictures, stream video at high quality and share their experiences by mobile, right from their seat. For fans, connectivity is the starting point for new ways of innovating, collaborating and socialising, and they want an experience that is worth the money that they have spent on the ticket. But providing network coverage and services to massive crowds presents many challenges for operators, including putting high pressure on the network.
Over the last few years it’s been really exciting to see the progress we are making at Ericsson in launching connected stadiums and assisting operators at major sporting events all over the world to meet these challenges. Most recently we deployed stadium experiences for the GAA, Paris Saint-Germain, Wasps’ Ricoh Arena and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, in addition to the 2016 European Football championships in France, where we strengthened 4G mobile coverage at 10 stadiums to offer the best experience possible to fans. During the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden, it was great to also host the world’s first digital arena of data content with the launch of two apps, to enable fans to access real-time information about their favourite skiers, as well as a schedule of events and live results.
We are also already seeing live 5G trials taking place in preparation for key sporting events and last month we announced our collaboration with KT to build a new 5G trial network in the lead up to the 2018 winter sporting events in PyeongChang. Similarly, we partnered with Sprint last summer to stream a football match from Philadelphia’s Lincoln Field in 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) video over a live 5G wireless signal. The launch of 5G will bring enhanced capacity and lower latency to continue to transform the digital experience for fans, making it possible to stream multiple ultra-high-definition video streams and share experiences on social media without buffering or delays. With the demand for 5G connectivity already there from consumers, it’ll be even more important for operators to deliver enhanced digital experiences for fans to maximize the potential of the technology. I’m excited to see what the future holds!
Edited and prepared by Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU.