English soccer giants Manchester United are in talks with UK-based telecommunications firm Vodafone over implementing a 5G data network at Old Trafford, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Vodafone, which previously sponsored the Premier League club, is apparently in talks regarding the fitting of high-speed fibre-optics in the stadium so it will be 5G ready, making it one of the first UK venues to install the next-generation mobile network, said to be 100 times faster than 4G, when it launches later this year.
At the recent Mobile World Congress trade show in Spain, La Liga leaders Barcelona announced they had partnered with O2’s Spanish owner, Telefonica, to launch 5G at their Nou Camp stadium, making it the first soccer arena in Europe to be equipped with the technology.
As part of the Nou Camp project, a number of wireless 360-degree cameras connected to the 5G network will be installed in different locations around the stadium including next to the goal and near the dugouts. Fans watching at home can then use virtual reality (VR) glasses to watch a live match as if they are at the venue.
The 5G network will also be used to capture behind-the-scenes content from team training sessions and to provide virtual stadium tours.
At Old Trafford its use will almost certainly have a broadcast slant. According to the report it could be used to conduct TV interviews with players on the pitch using holograms of presenters from the studio.
London’s Wembley stadium staged the world’s first live sporting event broadcast using a 5G network in partnership with BT Sport.
Working with BT-owned EE, the pay-TV broadcaster trialled the technology during the 2018 EE Wembley Cup exhibition game broadcasting live via YouTube.
The technology’s capabilities could become more prevalent in remote production and distribution for sports audiences, making broadcasting more flexible and offering faster-paced production.