La Liga leaders Barcelona have revealed that the Nou Camp will become the first European soccer stadium to be equipped with a dedicated 5G network.
The 5G Stadium-Immersive Reality project, which was revealed at the Mobile World Congress, is part of a collaboration between the top-flight club, Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica and mobile operator ecosystem GSMA to create more immersive broadcast experiences for fans.
As part of the project, a number of wireless 360-degree cameras connected to the 5G network will be installed in different locations around the Nou Camp including next to the goal and near the dugouts. Fans watching at home can then use virtual reality (VR) glasses to watch a live match as if there were in the stadium.
The 5G network will also be used to capture behind-the-scenes content from team training sessions and to provide virtual stadium tours.
The technology will be made available both in the stands and on the pitch using Telefónica’s commercial frequency band and a standard 3GPP Ericsson network. The adoption of the network will provide higher bandwidth, lower latency and edge computing to produce better quality video streams.
“For FC Barcelona it is a great pride that Camp Nou is the first football stadium in Europe with 5G internal coverage,” said Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu. “Thanks to the agreement between FC Barcelona and GSMA, with the participation of Telefónica, we have put the Camp Nou as an innovation laboratory available to the most advanced technology in mobile phones.”
“The 5G Stadium-Immersive Reality in sports pilot programme is further proof that the technology industry is diversifying towards new sectors, and becoming more and more relevant,” added GSMA chief executive John Hoffman. “With immersive reality, new generations will experience sports differently and sports fans will be offered unprecedented access, and will also be able to customise their own experiences from any angle in 360-degree.”
Barcelona’s iconic Nou Camp is set to undergo a major renovation as part of the €600 million Espai Barca project, which will see the stadium’s capacity increased to 105,000. The transformation also involves the installation of a roof to provide shelter for all seats along with a new perimeter ring that will house VIP boxes and restaurants.
On the pitch, Barca travel to play El Clasico rivals Real Madrid twice this week – first in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday before the pair meet again in the league on Saturday.