Vodafone UK and Tele2 became the latest operators to reveal advances in their respective use of 5G to boost fan experience, with both deploying the technology in arenas for events involving thousands of people.

The UK-based operator focused on the Women’s Six Nations Rugby tournament while Tele2 teamed with Ericsson to provide 5G coverage for a concert series spanning three days.

Vodafone explained 10,592 fans attending a match between Wales and Italy at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff late last month were provided access to 5G and a related app which uses AR to deliver live statistics about players when supporters pointed their phones at the pitch.

The app also displayed animations during key moments including scoring and penalty decisions.

Vodafone said it will make the 5G app available in the ground during the men’s rugby tournament in early 2025, part of a push to provide next-generation coverage to the “UK’s 120 top-tier” sports stadiums.

Ericsson claimed far higher numbers for what it branded a “milestone” in Tele2’s deployment of 5G at Swedish stadiums after the pair installed the technology at the nation’s Friends Arena for a series of concerts over the past three days.

A large crowd fills an indoor stadium for a concert. The audience creates a colorful display with their illuminated phones, enabled by 5G technology, creating a twinkling effect throughout the venue. The stage is visible in the background, lit up with performers and equipment.

The vendor stated “around 150,000 fans from 130 countries” attended concerts, providing good conditions to assess 5G under heavy loads. It added data usage in arenas is growing at 67 per cent each year, a “major opportunity” for service providers to enrich the fan experience.

Ericsson forecast smart stadium revenue will rise from €13.1 billion in 2023 to €31.7 billion by 2028, with high performance networks required as more users look to “share, interact and stream content”.