The MK Dons game against Ipswich Town at the MK Dons Football Stadium on Saturday has become a test bed for a first UK 5G broadcast trial aimed at revolutionizing fan engagement in stadiums.
The government-backed 5G Vista project allowed fans at the stadium to see multiple high-quality streams of the game on their mobile phones, while watching the action on the pitch.
Using a prototype 5G Vista app, fans could view six high-quality live streams showing different perspectives of the game, including behind-the-scenes footage.
5G provides stability and consistency of service not possible with 4G networks, which are typically unable to keep up with demand at events with large numbers of attendees.
Mobile connectivity in stadiums for fans is notoriously poor, with major sports venues struggling to provide sufficient capacity to deliver enhanced spectator experiences at a reasonable cost.
5G broadcasting, on the other hand, enables these experiences, and at a cost advantage over more traditional cellular solutions.
5G Vista partners include Virgin Media O2, Rohde and Schwarz, Digital Television Group, Global Wireless Solutions, Digital Catapult, Ori Industries, Imaginary Pictures, Ateme and University of Surrey 5G/6G Innovation Center, Microsoft, MK Dons, MK5G and the Open University.
As well as the 5G trial during the MK Dons v Ipswich Town match, the 5G Vista Project held a number of additional events under the MK5G banner, which showcased several applications illustrating how major venues can leverage 5G to operate in the future. These included autonomous vehicles for transporting supporters to and from the stadium, and on-site AI-enabled traffic control.
The 5G demonstrations also included a drone race organized by the British Drone Racing Association around the MK Dons football ground, which was filmed from multiple angles using the 5G Vista app.
5G Vista and MK5G have received funding from the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport to boost live events using 5G. 5G Vista was backed by £1.3m, with an additional £1m contributed by partners.
Alex Buchan, Strategic Technologist, Digital Television Group and Project Manager, said, “DTG, through Project Vista, is proud to lead the television industry into a new phase of interactive, personalized and live content driven. over 5G for anywhere, anytime access. . The trial at MK Dons shows that the technology developed during the project has the potential to transform the way we consume content and experience live events over the next decade.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez added: “5G has the power to bring fans more enjoyment of live sports in stadiums while helping broadcasters improve their live broadcast. I am delighted that this trial is the latest in a long list of cutting-edge tests that we have funded as part of our £200m scheme to use 5G to drive economic growth and improve people’s lives.
David Owens, Head of Technical Trials at Virgin Media O2, said: “This event marks the culmination of hard but very rewarding work with fantastic partners. We’re excited to bring the 5G Vista to life during an MK Dons game, showcasing the technologies to real fans and seeing their reactions was fantastic. We are excited about the future possibilities of this 5G-powered technology for fan experiences in stadiums and at home.
Kostas Katsaros, Chief 5G Technologist, Digital Catapult added, “Working on 5G Vista has been a fantastic journey – from early testing in our 5G labs, to a preview presentation at O2 Blueroom in September, and now streaming a soccer game and drone racing. in a real sports stadium. The project shows that taking the spectator experience to the next level using 5G broadcasting is a very real possibility, and I can’t wait to see what exciting developments lie ahead for audiences, event venues, specialists marketing, artists and sports teams.