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Key learnings from the 5G VISTA Project in UK

The 5G VISTA (Video in-stadia Technical Architecture) project is part of the UK Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport's (DCMS) 5G Testbeds and Trials programme, a £200 million investment in testbeds and trials across the UK to investigate new ways that 5G can boost productivity, grow existing businesses, and spark new ones. It was completed on 1st April 2022.

The project has tested and demonstrated the potential of 5G Broadcast and Multicast to deliver new and exciting digital experiences to spectators at live events.  The technology developed uses a concept called Further-evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (FeMBMS) technology to support innovative use cases - to both enhance customer experience at events, and increase engagement. Whilst most mobile and internet communications are modelled on a “one-to-one” system, FeMBMS is a “one-to-many” service; it will take a single stream and send it to multiple users.

A group of lucky fans at the match between MK Dons and Ipswich Town on 12th February 2022 were able to try out a prototype of the 5G VISTA app. This allowed them to view six, high-quality live streams of different perspectives of the game - including behind the scenes footage - with the tap of a screen. A short video is embedded below and a much more detailed trials video is available here.

Back in September last year, representatives from organisations including O2, Rohde and Schwarz and TOCA Technical gathered to discuss the potential of 5G technology to transform live events by enhancing viewer experience, allowing venue owners to disseminate crucial event information and unlocking new advertising and sales opportunities.

Video of the tech preview and panel discussion for key contacts and opinion-formers to discover the transformative benefits of 5G broadcast technology and the future of the live event experience.

Details of key learnings are available here. A short extract below:

  • Costs: Creating and maintaining the app; marketing; support infrastructure; content creation; rights management and installation all require a sizeable investment It’s also important to ensure the solution is cost-competitive with Wi-Fi
  • The solution provider should be independent of individual stakeholders. To maximise commercial benefit, content should be made available across all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), clubs, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and rights owners
  • Expected functionality and features from a new app would include
    • Easy access (download and install) via a single app (likely to be the ticket-/ season-holder app) 
    • Intuitive, user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI)
    • Ability to support data-heavy apps including live-streaming video, real-time game and player statistics, live Multiview (choosing camera angle) and replays of goals and key moments
    • Scalable with guaranteed Quality of Service  
    • Retail/concessions/travelling/parking 
    • Engaging social media features (more like Snapchat, TikTok and Substack rather than WhatsApp)
    • Enable user-generated content
  • User data control and privacy: Venue owners and rights holders should decide what content fans can access, capture user data, track usage and target content. In today’s big data and precision marketing world, this kind of control is essential
  • Consumers are indifferent to the underlying technology—and they will not pay extra for a VISTA-like service unless they see a clear benefit  
  • Clarification around content dissemination and exclusivity in relation to rights management is fundamental to the success of any such service 
  • Sports clubs and event organisers want to “own the fans” and have access to their user data. This requires some linkage with ticketing and/or club membership
  • Sports clubs and brands are more trusted than MNOs or social media companies
  • Feeds and management of feeds can be offloaded, but more clarification is needed regarding the management of metadata and streams, and the overall end-to-end service

A final report of the project is available on the UK5G website here. More details on the project are available on UK5G website here and Digital Catapult website here.

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