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June 15, 2016updated 21 Oct 2016 4:42pm

Connected footballs will use 5G to stream live match data to fans

5G networks inside grounds could stream player data and live data from the ball itself to fans

By Sam

Every true football fan and player from park to professional knows that football is about loving the ball.

Now Ericsson is predicting a 5G football experience where fans in stadiums can stream data directly from connected players and take data from a connected football while in play.

The firm is experimenting with a connected ball in a fan zone in the US city of Philadelphia’s Lincoln Field where Major League Soccer is played. It says fans can play with a connected ball and view their efforts streamed live in 4K UHD video over 5G.

It says going forward both the game ball and the players could be connected so that fans could see real-time information and analytics about the speed, rotation and height of the ball.

It says more data will also feed into commentary with more new stats and graphical analytics on TV.

Another potential application for 5G in stadiums is the ability to experience matches from new vantage points, using phones to switch between different 360-degree, ultra-high definition virtual reality cameras filming all around the stadium. 5G will deliver enough capacity to the stadium for fans to stream high-quality video and share the views from their seats with others at the same match.

Glenn Laxdal, Head of Technology and Strategy, Ericsson North America, says: "5G will make possible a wider range of services than any network has done before, and sporting events are a great way to show this off. We are happy to help Sprint inspire fans with this peek into the 5G future, especially given our history together of bringing technology upgrades that improve the consumer experience. We look forward to Sprint’s evolution to 5G, particularly given their unique spectrum position and technology foundation."

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John Saw, Chief Technology Officer, Sprint, says: "Achieving speeds up to 4 Gbps far outside the lab environment, in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field and in the midst of thousands of visitors, is exciting. It gives us a great opportunity to demonstrate how far we have come technologically, and why 5G will matter to fans."

Football changes constantly and the use of technology, as has been proved with goalline technology will continue to find its way into the game.

5G standardization will not be finalized for a few years, but the technology has already progressed far enough to provide gigabit speeds in real-world environments. Ericsson is investing in the 5G market, both in 5G technology development demonstrations such as MIMO, beamforming, beam tracking and network slicing, and in driving the ecosystem development that is required to ensure 5G will fulfil its promise across all industries.

In April this year the English Football League announced that free wi-fi would be available at Championship and League One and League Two matches.

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