EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, outlined its ambitions to make London’s Wembley the best connected stadium in the world by 2015, with plans to dramatically boost 3G and 4G capacity.
The six year partnership with Wembley, which was first announced in February, has already resulted in a doubling of 3G and 4G capacity, which has supported 1.65TB of downloaded data and 900GB of uploaded data to data.
EE also claims to have achieved a 99 per cent success rate for phone calls made within the stadium during events.
Speaking at an event at Wembley, the operator’s director of radio networks, Mansoor Hanif, noted that supporting these services at stadium events is “the most difficult thing to manage in the world of networks”.
EE achieved the increase in wireless data capacity with the addition of 5MHz of spectrum for 3G services and a 10MHz chunk in the 1.8GHz band for 4G.
The operator plans to add a further 5MHz of 3G capacity and 20MHz of 4G spectrum in the 2.6GHz band with speeds of up to 300Mb/s targeted for early next year, through the use of LTE-Advanced technology.
“Being connected to the network is no longer just about getting stuff up to the network, but getting stuff back down from the network. Whether you’re on 3G or 4G, your experience will continue to improve,” Hanif noted.
Further down the line, EE aims to demonstrate speeds of up to 400Mb/s next year, supporting LTE Broadcast (MBMS) technology which could potentially provide customers with the ability to switch between different views of an event on their device.
The operator said in July that it was looking to begin trials of LTE Broadcast later this year, with possible commercial launches following late in 2015.
EE has also invested in Wi-Fi at Wembley, particular in areas with a high ‘dwell time’ such as the main concourse, boxes, bars and the press office, to provide a back-up to cellular coverage.
“Wembley for us is the mothership of our network. It’s where we expect our customers to really experience it, where they can interact with it,” Hanif said.
EE and Wembley also have plans to launch contactless ticketing and payment, with the goal of 50 per cent of all payments being contactless by 2017.
Rob Ray, the stadium’s CTO, explained that mobile ticketing could be a way for the stadium, while respecting privacy, to learn more about visitors and improve their experience at the venue.
He added that mobile is about “amplifying the event”, something that was demonstrated when an event in the summer saw 30,000 tweets made from within the stadium ‘bowl’.
EE is also planning a new version of the Wembley Connected by EE app, which will add a social wall, the ability to send text messages to the stadium’s huge screens and Wembley Radio, a playlist for events powered by music streaming company Deezer.
The new version of the iOS and Android app will be available early next month, ahead of England’s European Championships qualifying game against San Marino on 9 October.
EE isn’t the first mobile operator to work closely with a stadium. The San Francisco Giants baseball team, for example, is working with the US number-two operator AT&T to boost network capacity and provide associated services at its AT&T Park arena.