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Stadium trial is latest success in 5G Vista project

Multi-supplier project to explore valuable commercial opportunities of 5G technologies announces successful trial at a live football match

As the UK’s mobile industry hits the accelerator pedal in deploying 5G and the UK government sees evolution in the 5G Create projects it is funding to trial new uses of 5G to improve people’s lives, another UK next-gen network project, the 5G Vista consortium, has announced a successful trial of video-rich content at an outdoor location.

The Video in Stadia Technical Architecture (Vista) project takes full advantage of 5G New Radio, enhanced mobile broadband and 5G broadcast services, trialled with LTE feMBMS, to showcase in-stadia digital experiences. 

The 5G Vista consortium includes companies such as Virgin Media O2, Rohde & Schwarz, DTG, GWS, Ori Industries, Imaginary Pictures, Ateme and advanced digital technology innovation centre Digital Catapult. It aims to offer solutions to a number of pain points experienced by broadcasters and TV crews at events venues and stadiums. 

In-stadia mobile connectivity for fans is notoriously weak, according to the consortium. The challenge for large sporting venues is in providing enough capacity to deliver enhanced spectator experiences at a reasonable cost.

The partners claim 5G broadcast will allow spectators to get closer to the action at live events and has the potential to overcome challenges associated with cabling, network complexity and unstable 4G networks during events with a large number of attendees – all at a cost advantage compared with more traditional cellular solutions.

The technology trial was held on 12 February at the MK Dons football stadium in Milton Keynes, where a group of fans at a game against Ipswich Town were able to try out a prototype of the 5G Vista app. This allowed them to view six high-quality live streams of different perspectives of the game, including behind the scenes footage.

Two days later, the same venue hosted the MK5G Create event, which showcased a number of applications illustrating how major venues could harness 5G to operate in the future, including autonomous vehicles for transporting fans to and from the stadium and AI-enabled traffic control onsite.

Kostas Katsaros, lead 5G technologist at Digital Catapult said: “Working on 5G Vista has been a fantastic journey – from early tests in our 5G labs, to a preliminary showcase at the O2 Blueroom in September, and now streaming a football match and drone racing at a real sports stadium.

“The project shows that taking spectator experiences to the next level using 5G broadcast is a very real possibility, and I can’t wait to see what exciting developments are ahead for audiences, events venues, marketers, artists and sports teams.”

Both 5G Vista and MK5G have received funding from the UK government’s Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport to boost live events using 5G as part of the 5G Create Competition, which is part of the government’s £200m investment in testbeds and trials across the UK to explore new ways that 5G can boost productivity, grow existing businesses or spark new ones. 

5G Vista was backed by £1.3m, with a further £1m contributed by partners.

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