5G VISTA flies high in UK first at Stadium MK

Watch highlights as Project VISTA showcases live drone racing in HD to demonstrate 5G broadcast technology at the 5G Create event on Feb 14th 2022.

5G VISTA gets football fans even closer to the action 

Watch highlights as Project VISTA trials 5G broadcast technology live for the first time at MK Dons vs. Ipswich Town on Feb 12th 2022 at Stadium MK.

UK-first 5G broadcast trials at MK Dons football stadium set to revolutionise fan experience

A landmark project using 5G broadcast technology to supercharge the way fans interact with live sport has been piloted at a major sporting event.

The group behind 5G VISTA - a government-backed consortium using 5G technologies to deepen audience engagement, broaden content for fans and create valuable new commercial opportunities - completed a successful trial at a live football match at the 30,400-seat MK Dons football stadium.

A group of lucky fans at the match between MK Dons and Ipswich Town on 12th February 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.

Not only does 5G broadcast technology allow spectators to get even closer to the action at live events; it has the potential to offer solutions to a number of pain points experienced by broadcasters and TV crews at events venues and stadiums.

This includes overcoming challenges associated with cabling and network complexity, and unstable 4G networks during events with a large number of attendees.

In-stadia mobile connectivity for fans is notoriously weak, with challenges for large sporting venues in providing enough capacity to deliver enhanced spectator experiences at a reasonable cost. 5G broadcast allows these experiences at a cost advantage compared with more traditional cellular solutions.

Alex Buchan, Strategic Technologist, DTG and Project Lead said:

“DTG, through the VISTA project, is proud to be leading the TV industry into a new phase of interactive, personalised and live content driven by 5G for access anywhere, anytime. The trial at MK Dons shows the technology developed during the project has the potential to transform the way we consume content, and experience live events, over the coming decade.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said:

"5G has the power to further fans' enjoyment of live sports in stadiums while helping broadcasters to improve their live output.

"I'm delighted that this trial is the latest in a long list of cutting-edge tests we've funded through our £200 million programme to use 5G to drive economic growth and improve people's lives."

The completion of the technical trial was followed by a final showcase of the project on 14th February as part of the MK5G Create event in the Marshall Arena, also at Stadium MK.

5G VISTA partners including Virgin Media O2, Rohde and Schwarz, DTG, GWS, Digital Catapult, Ori Industries, Imaginary Pictures, Ateme and the University of Surrey’s 5G/6G Innovation Centre joined sporting, tech and broadcast giants such as Microsoft, MK Dons, MK5G and the Open University to discuss business cases for live events solutions powered by 5G Broadcast.

MK5G showcased several groundbreaking applications illustrating how major venues can harness 5G to operate in the future, including autonomous vehicles for transporting fans to and from the stadium, and AI-enabled traffic control onsite.

These demonstrations included an exhilarating drone race around the MK Dons football pitch - filmed from multiple perspectives using the 5G VISTA app, as the final milestone of the 5G VISTA project. This constituted the world’s first drone race broadcast in high definition, sponsored by Virgin Media O2 and organised by the British Drone Racing Association.

Both 5G VISTA and MK5G had received funding from the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport to boost live events using 5G.  5G VISTA was backed by £1.3 million, with a further £1 million contributed by partners.

David Owens, Head of Technical Trials at Virgin Media O2:

“This event marks the culmination of a lot of hard but very rewarding work with some fantastic partners. We're thrilled to bring 5G VISTA to life at a MK Dons game, showcasing the technologies to real fans and watching their reactions was fantastic. We're excited about the future possibilities of this 5G-powered technology for fan experiences in-stadium and at home.”

Kostas Katsaros, Lead 5G Technologist, Digital Catapult said:

“Working on 5G VISTA has been a fantastic journey – from early tests in our 5G labs, to a preliminary showcase at the O2 Blueroom in September, and now streaming a football match and drone racing at a real sports stadium.

“The project shows that taking spectator experiences to the next level using 5G Broadcast is a very real possibility, and I can’t wait to see what exciting developments are ahead for audiences, events venues, marketers, artists and sports teams.”

Dr Haitham Cruickshank from the University of Surrey's 5G/6G Innovation Centre said:

"This landmark pilot is just a glimpse of how 5G will transform how we all consume live events such as football matches. For the 5G/6G Innovation Centre, it was an opportunity to showcase our end-to-end security capabilities that are the foundations that could allow thousands of people to share live experiences in unique ways.

"We will soon add this multicast/broadcast security into our world-leading testbed in Guildford."

Douglas Mancini, CCO, Ori Industries:

“The 5G VISTA project has highlighted the transformative opportunities for edge computing deployments and future network capabilities in real-time commercial settings. This new technology is changing the way people experience live events and we’re pleased to have been involved in this transformation.”

Stadium MK is just the start for 5G VISTA and sports fans

When a small group of lucky fans sit down to watch MK Dons vs. Ipswich Town on Saturday 12th February 2022, they will not only enjoy the atmosphere within Stadium MK but also a totally new way of experiencing a live match.

As well as the live action, they will be able to watch six different streams, offering different camera angles and behind the scenes footage, all on a mobile handset. Spoilt for choice – maybe, but this live user and technical trial is the culmination of the 5G VISTA project, which the DTG and the rest of our project partners hope will be just the start for 5G broadcast technology and sports fans.

5G VISTA was set up in January 2020 as part of the DCMS’s 5G Create programme, with the aim of testing and demonstrating the consumer benefits, technical feasibility, and business case for using 5G broadcast technology to deliver enhanced experiences at live sporting events. By delivering content from one source to many users, rather than one to one, the technology can deliver a richer live experience that will include: multi-angle views of the action; views from areas that cannot be seen; and additional information about the event.

According to our research, most fans going to live sporting events (77%) already use their smartphones, and many welcomed the idea of what an app based on the VISTA technology could deliver; one concluded: “To be at the heart of the action at a live event is amazing. The app sounds very exciting, and I would definitely use it.”  So, after 12 months in development and testing, the technology will now be trialled with those pilot fans at Stadium MK.

The VISTA project team have worked closely with MK Dons to carry out the trial, and deploy this exciting technology at a live sporting event for the first time.

Four new cameras will be positioned around the stadium, to add to the existing live feed, providing different angles and perspectives, allowing the fans to get much closer to the action. In addition, special behind-the-scenes footage will give a unique insight into the players and team, away from the pitch.

The technical side of the trial is paramount, but so is how our group of trailblazing fans react to the experience and help shape project progress. The live trial may be the culmination of many hours of development and testing over the past year, by all the VISTA partners, but is in fact just the beginning of a fantastic innovation that could revolutionise the way fans experience live sport.

Outside of the stadium environment, this technology could be used wherever fans cannot see all the action from their static position – e.g. motor sport, golf, multi-sport events – keeping them right there, where the action is. The opportunities are endless…

We hope it captures the fans’ imaginations, as well as the imagination of rights-owners, venues, broadcasters, and mobile network operators. After all, it is they who will be able to fully develop and apply this technology at scale, redefining the fan experience for millions of their loyal supporters.

In five years’ time it would be great to look back at that Saturday afternoon at Stadium MK knowing it was the moment the live fan experience was changed forever.

Tech and broadcast giants explore 5G’s unrivalled potential to elevate live events

Thursday 16th September, London: Harnessing 5G technology at live events will result in more interactive content for fans, deeper audience engagement and lucrative new commercial opportunities according to comments from leading sporting, broadcast and tech companies at the O2 Blueroom yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 15th September).

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.

Sam Riches, Technical Officer, British Touring Cars said:

“By harnessing 5G, a project like VISTA delivers on two fronts. It delivers on the technical need for sharp connectivity and high-quality broadcast in-stadia or on a racing circuit.

“Meanwhile, from a consumer perspective, something like this completely catapults events - getting people into venues, giving them value for money, and allowing them to feel like they’re part of the action.”

James Wilson, Commercial Director at Cloudbass, said:

“Like we’ve seen today with the example of ITV and British Touring Cars, there is a brilliant opportunity to level up the terrific work broadcasters do - giving them a chance to have a deeper presence on site, and deliver a richer experience to audiences.

“A project like 5G Vista also gives a nod to a generation used to engagement on devices, by developing solutions with ‘generation screen’ at front of mind.”

Ciaran Doran, Director of Marketing at Rohde & Schwarz, said:

“The 5G VISTA consortium has managed to identify an all-round problem at live events, and turn this into an opportunity.

“We’re so excited to be involved in a project which is pushing boundaries to deliver more - and higher quality - content for fans.”

Event attendee Paolo Pescatore - Technology, Media and Telecoms Analyst and Founder of PP Foresight - said:

“5G has well and truly landed. Live events are the next frontier, with potential to be completely transformed by the high-speeds and sharp quality delivered by the latest broadcast technology.

“From today’s event, there's a huge appetite to elevate the audience experience and participation. Personalisation and further collaboration will be key, which underpin the ongoing efforts being made with the 5G VISTA project.”

The remarks were made during a panel discussion conducted by the BBC and Metro’s Lucy Hedges, that took place alongside a technical demonstration to mark the next phase of the government-backed 5G VISTA project.

With partners including DTG, Digital Catapult, Rohde Schwarz, O2 and GWS, the 5G VISTA project is developing an application using 5G Broadcast technology based on feMBMS (further evolved multimedia broadcast multicast service) to enhance fan experience and create an innovative and exciting dimension to live sports.

The event at the O2 Blueroom was also an opportunity for attendees to see the developing 5G VISTA technology come to life, with a high-quality, multi-stream viewing of an exhilarating British Touring Cars race. The technology allowed them to get closer to the action by providing them with several different perspectives of the race - including views from the cockpit, view from the starting grid and from the stands.

The 5G VISTA project is acting as a litmus test for future sporting events where viewers can enjoy instant replays via smartphones during stadium events, and access an unprecedented amount of content instantaneously at their fingertips - from a choice of multiple camera angles to in-depth background info on their team.

Alex Buchan, Strategic Technologist, DTG and Project Lead said:

“The 5G VISTA project has today demonstrated the value of 5G to the media and entertainment industries. The consortium brings together a convergence of mobile and broadcast expertise and has shown how 5G Broadcast can bring fans closer to the action.

“DTG are proud to be leading the project and we look forward to continuing the success into our final showcase in early 2022."

Kostas Katsaros, Lead 5G Technologist, Digital Catapult said:

“With its ultra-fast speeds and capacity for higher-quality streaming, 5G still has incredible potential to elevate audience experience at live events - unlocking dynamic new experiences such as multi-camera views, while increasing accessibility and engagement.

“Today’s demo at O2 Blueroom took us one step closer to making that a reality and was a useful platform for expert discussion around the emerging opportunities in this area.I look forward to working with our fantastic partners to take this project over the line.”

Rob Searle, Head of 5G at O2, said:

“The Project VISTA team has made real progress over the past year, and it’s great to be able to showcase this exciting project at such an iconic venue.

“This trial paves the way for numerous 5G-powered opportunities, not only in live entertainment and broadcasting but wider fan engagement. Something that’s very close to our hearts at O2.”

The demo event comes ahead of a full demonstration at a live sports event in February 2022.

Cutting Edge Innovators Join 5G VISTA Live Entertainment Consortium

5G VISTA has welcomed a further four cutting-edge tech organisations to drive the project from proof of concept to live stadium application. The DCMS-funded project demonstrates how enhanced interactive viewing experiences can be delivered direct to devices, using 5G broadcast technology at live entertainment venues.

The existing consortium, made up of Digital Catapult, DTG (Digital TV Group), Global Wireless Solutions, Rohde & Schwarz and Virgin Media O2, now includes ATEME, Imaginary Pictures, Ori and 5GIC.  

Alex Buchan, Project Lead and Strategic Technologist at the DTG said, We’re really excited to have these four organisations on board for the next development phase for 5G VISTA. Each consortium member brings unique but complementary skills from across the whole mobile media delivery ecosystem, and the new members are no different. 

“From testing the cyber security credentials of the network to creating compelling user experiences and enhancing live experiences for fans, our new partners are applying bleeding-edge tech to drive down processing power, latency, and carbon footprint.”

ATEME will provide video compression and encoding solutions to enable the live content to be delivered over the 5G broadcast network, while Ori Industries brings a Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) platform to orchestrate ATEME’s solution on Virgin Media O2’s 5G network. 

The University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) will be looking into multicast/broadcast security within the 5G VISTA project. The work includes the design and validation of end-to-end security for group communications using Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) and a lightweight multicast key management system. 

Imaginary Pictures will provide the cameras, production and master control capability for the project's demonstrations.  

5G VISTA will be holding an exclusive showcase event for press and partners in London on 15th September.

For more information, or to request an invitation, please contact Georgie Wilks-Wiffen at [email protected]

Consortium of Broadcast and Telecom Partners Secure DCMS Support for 5G Live Event Media Delivery Project

The DTG (Digital TV Group) the centre of UK digital TV, in partnership with Digital Catapult, Global Wireless Solutions, O2, Rohde & Schwarz, have successfully secured Government funding to develop a 5G mobile-based platform to broadcast events in stadiums and other venues.

DTG and partners plan to provide enhanced interactive viewing experiences direct to devices in stadia and at other select locations, using 5G broadcast also known as FeMBMS: further enhanced multimedia broadcast multicast service.

"The objective of the consortium's VISTA (Video In Stadia Technical Architecture) project is to test and demonstrate consumer benefits and technical feasibility of using 5G FeMBMS technology."

This collaboration brings together complementary skills from across the whole mobile media delivery ecosystem from devices, to networks to broadcast, to content and venues. The consortium has strong pre-existing relationships built on successful R&D work and 5G trials.

The £2.3 million project has received £1.3 million from the Government as part of 5G Create, a competition to support innovators exploring new uses for 5G to improve people’s lives and boost British businesses.

The project will define use cases which stimulate the development of the device and network ecosystem to support 5G broadcast and by having these features inherent in network architecture it provides built-in efficiencies which are seamless to end-users. 

It will also demonstrate how 5G broadcast can reduce carbon footprint by reducing the number of base stations and the amount of spectrum needed to deliver content to mass audiences.

The result will highlight the potential for delivery of content and ways of watching which can bring about possibilities for collaborative viewing and interplay between venues meaning that watching a sporting event becomes a social occasion, even if you cannot leave the house.

Matt Warman, Digital Infrastructure Minister said: “5G presents a huge opportunity to enhance the stadium experience for sports fans with seamless access to multi-angle video, replays and stats. Project Vista is one of several high tech projects the government is funding to seize the full benefits of 5G for the UK, and I look forward to sharing the lessons learned with the UK’s wider live events sector.”

Alex Buchan, Strategic Technologist at the DTG said, The efficient nature of 5G delivery and the low impact on data usage of broadcast technology will mean that it becomes viable to deliver more content, though more channels and to more devices. Leading to increased fan engagement with teams, an ‘all access’ opportunity for viewers, and increasing the appeal of sport across generations.”

Derek McManus, COO, O2 Telefonica said “We are excited to play our part in the development of this ground-breaking initiative; working with industry specialists to create something innovative and exciting that will not only enhance our customers’ experience at events but add a whole new and exciting dimension to live sports. Programmes like this which harness the power of next generation connectivity, create fresh opportunities that benefit customers and businesses while helping to boost the economy.

Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult said: “The arena experience has been largely unchanged for millennia - but 5G offers the opportunity finally to give live audiences more. Digital Catapult’s leadership in industrial 5G innovation combined with that of our partners, opens up exciting possibilities that will usher in a new dynamic and interactive era of arena experiences.“

Paul Carter, CEO, Global Wireless Solutions said: “With project VISTA we are proposing to change the matchday experience (using 5G) by giving consumers choice over content – which camera angle they want to see (live), background information about the teams and more. This can benefit both match attendees but also offer the potential for remote live access (especially relevant with COVID-19). This is just the start of how our everyday experience will be enhanced through 5G. 

Manfred Reitmeier, Vice President Transmitters and Amplifier Systems at Rohde & Schwarz said: “At Rohde & Schwarz, we are actively involved in 5G Broadcast / Multicast trials around the world. This live event related application is the next important step for us with this technology. We are tremendously excited to participate in this UK-based strategic initiative.”