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Top benefits of 5G technology in sports – including better quality snacks at stadiums


The roll-out of 5G is predicted to slash the time it takes to get a half-time pint, or a bite at a stadium – as mobile apps will allow punters to order in advance. Economic modelling shows how 5G-powered tech will enable better quality snacks, as pre-orders will let vendors personalise food choices to dietary needs, and 5G-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) will make sure supplies never run out.

Long half-time queues for food and drink will also become a thing of the past, as the roll-out will help food and drink vendors serve customers quicker – so fans don’t have to miss any of the action.

Modelling by Development Economics, commissioned for Vodafone, predicts sellers in stadiums will be able to monitor customer demand and stock levels, allowing them to serve more customers, quicker, during busy periods.

Thanks to 5G, more efficient food and drinks sales at rugby stadiums could generate an additional £24m revenue, from 2029.

And it’s not just rugby, as introducing 5G technologies in a typical 30,000 seat football stadium would result in a 42 percent uplift in food and drink revenue, per fixture – equating to £114 million per year from 2029.

The modelling also shows 5G-powered technologies can supercharge the match day experience for rugby and other sport fans.

VR headsets in fan zones, on a dedicated slice of 5G, will also give fans an at-seat, real-time viewing experience – even when the game is sold out.

The 5G-powered headset will enable fans to select their own camera angle, and get a live feed of match stats – adding an additional £24m to the rugby match day economy.

It will also ensure a smooth ride to the stadiums, with reduced train delays, thanks to 5G-powered sensors on the trains and railways, which detect faults and enable trains to run more smoothly – saving train passengers headed for rugby matches a total of 170,000 hours.

Max Taylor, CEO at Vodafone UK, said: “We know the potential of 5G, and how critical it is to unlocking growth for the UK economy.

“Our match day modelling shows an additional £139 million in revenues and efficiencies, brought about by applying 5G technology in professional rugby, as soon as the next five years.

“These figures are examples of why we need to invest in the necessary infrastructure needed to make 5G Standalone a reality for the UK, and why our proposed combination with Three UK would give us the level of investment required.”

Beyond revenue boosts, 5G-powered innovations can also help reduce the carbon footprint rugby has on match days.

Combining 5G, IoT, and AI could enable smarter lighting, refrigeration, and ventilation for rugby stadium food and drink vendors, reducing carbon emissions by around 450 tonnes of CO2e per season by 2029 – the equivalent needed to power 14.1 million household TVs viewing a full rugby match.

Access to 5G connectivity will also have a major impact on grassroots sports clubs across the country. In the future, grassroots clubs could experience professional coaching – as demonstrated when Vodafone partnered with tennis star, Emma Raducanu, last year, to deliver the world’s first hologram tennis coaching session, directly from Abu Dhabi to London, thanks to 5G technology.

5G innovations could even make watching games more inclusive for fans. For example, GiveVision – a 5G-powered headset trialled by Vodafone at Wimbledon in 2023 – enables visually-impaired fans to experience live tennis like never before, from anywhere in the stands.

Powered by 5G, the service streams live footage from local TV cameras to the headsets, which enhance the footage to suit the person’s specific sight profile, without any delay.

As part of its proposed merger with Three UK, Vodafone UK has committed to delivering a best-in-class 5G SA network to 99 percent of the UK population by 2034 – which will cover all of the UK’s 120 top-tier rugby, football, and cricket stadiums.

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