Having just added more NFL matches to its already-busy 2015 schedule, Wembley Stadium, the UK’s flagship sports arena, is about to get an upgrade.
Not on the pitch (which is sure to anger England Football manager Roy Hodgson), but to its technology infrastructure. Wembley stadium is adding to the fan experience by being set to become a “high-tech stadium of the future.”
A few months ago, Wembley and EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator, signed a six-year technological partnership. Now, they have announced plans for Wembley to become the “most connected stadium in the world.”
Since February 2014, EE has doubled 3G and 4G services in the stadium and added 12 new mobile antennas to increase the available data.
Now, 99 per cent of calls can be completed within the stadium, which is a major feat as any sports fan will know that completing calls or even sending text messages in most full sports stadiums is near impossible.
The partnership plans to install 300Mbps LTE connectivity in the stadium as early as next year. This 4G connectivity will allow fans to download information at a quadrupled capacity, making phone calls, social media access, and text messaging seamless for fans.
EE is also planning to test an even faster 400Mbps LTE service in Wembley before 2016, but consumers will need a Cat 9 device which isn’t yet available.
Hopefully they will be by 2017, which is when EE plans to make the 400 Mbps service widely available to the public in the stadium.
Wembley and EE are also looking to increase the standard capacity and bandwidth of 3G service for the majority of visitors.
They are also pushing to make tickets and other payments as contactless as possible. Wembley hopes that by 2017, more than 50 per cent of payments in the stadium will be contactless.
The icing on the Wembley cake will be the new lighting system in the staple Wembley arch, featuring the world’s fastest, interactive LED lighting system.
It responds to event noise, crowd reaction, and points scored inside Wembley which, also possibly seeming a bit gimmicky, greatly adds to the fan experience.
And that, of course, is what it’s all about.