Public-facing technological innovations should be all about introducing advances that improve or makes consumers’ lives easier. Whether it’s the ability to check which part of your tube train is the busiest, book a taxi from your phone, or use your mobile to have a more immersive experience at a large event, consumers have high expectations when it comes to technology and its reliability. Innovation and drive, arduous research and development, and financial commitment are all factors that cannot be underestimated when empowering consumers with new or improved capabilities to reliably do something that is of value to them.

Take the use of mobile phones at stadiums or large events: many consumers believe that mobile phone usage should be as functional here as it is in most other urban spaces, with information at our fingertips and the ability to post content or catch a key moment up close unimpeded. This is reflected in their ongoing use of mobile devices at stadiums – our research shows that consumers going to live events regularly use their smartphones (76% use them at music events and 77% at sports events), with photography, messaging, filming, and voice calls being the most used functions. But the technology often struggles. Simple functions like making a call or updating social media – things which consumers often are keen to do at large events spaces – can be incredibly challenging as networks struggle to find a cost effective way to meet demand. Overcoming issues of capacity constraints, network solutions, and equipment costs have, historically, been challenging for mobile providers, stadium operators, and events producers to work out – keep in mind that a stadium is typically packed with fans one day and sitting idle for the rest of the week.

But where technology is limited and consumer demand is high, opportunity lies.

5G Vista is a pioneering project that will deliver next generation viewing experiences for event spectators. The particular technology that Vista will centre around is further-evolved multimedia broadcast multicast service (FeMBMS). While most mobile and internet communications are one to one, FeMBMS is one to many; it will take a single stream and send it to multiple users. By providing live multi-angle HD video streams and interactive content from the event direct to devices in stadiums (and ultimately to locations across the UK as well), the project aims to create an innovative and exciting dimension to live events that will not only enhance the spectator’s experiences at events but increase channels of engagement whilst showcasing new in-stadia digital experiences.

The commercial potential of this technology is vast: for operators, events managers, content providers, and those looking to build new and innovative experiences for consumers.

Take a large sports stadium for instance. By using Vista’s technology, you could design an app for the most passionate sports fan that augments the matchday experience. This could contain additional broadcast content and coverage of key moments. Any football fan has experienced the anguish associated with VAR: Vista’s broadcast capabilities could solve this problem by bringing live footage to mobile devices and improving the transparency of in-game decisions. Or look at music venues. In increasingly large arenas and music venues, fans can often be far away from the action. A Vista-enabled app could bring them close-up views of the stage or allow for greater interaction with artists when production levels are a focus of the entertainment experience. At festivals, fans could also follow what is happening at stages from afar, ensuring they don’t miss any of the action.

More broadly, this technology could also allow for the broadcast of up-to-date venue information such as queue length for facilities or the ability to take advantage of food and beverage specials. It could provide greater advertising and sales opportunities as attendees will no longer be cut off by the bandwidth barrier which prevents reliable mobile use, as well as inclusive features to improve matchday experience for those with disabilities.  All of this is made possible because Vista, and FeMBMS, solves the bandwidth issue that prevents consumers from accessing the information they are accustomed to finding at their fingertips in other urban spaces.

For the adoption of FeMBMS, and Vista’s technology, to be successful it’s critical to show the benefits of this technological solution over other options. This is an innovation that will move the stadium experience forwards because it provides consumers the power to use technology they expect elsewhere. The commercial case made for using this technology should convince operators, stadiums, producers and broadcasters that their interests with this technology are ultimately aligned. Providing consumers with reliable mobile technology wherever they are is a proven business case because it is, after all, the least that they expect.