Chelsea FC has become the first Premier League club to roll out 5G across its home ground – allowing crowds to enjoy faster internet from their seats on matchday.
Thanks to its partnership with shirt sponsor Three, the west London club has completed installation of the next-gen network around Stamford Bridge.
It means fans at the ground will enjoy ‘a seamless, connected experience on match days’ from their seats when their access the internet on their 5G phones.
5G will be officially accessible at Stamford Bridge from the next matchday – Lille in the UEFA Champions League on February 22.
Five Chelsea legends were back at Stamford Bridge for Three’s official launch of its 5G network this week – Gianfranco Zola, Eidur Gudjohnsen, William Gallas, Geremi and Rob Green, dubbed the ‘five Gs’.
Five club legends returned to Stamford Bridge for the 5G launch this week – from left to right, Geremi, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Rob Green, Gianfranco Zola and William Gallas
Stamford Bridge in west London has become the first Premier League ground to roll out 5G across the whole of the premises
Neither Three or Chelsea FC would disclose overall costs of the 5G installation, but said the next-gen network would ‘pave the way for the ultimate connected fan experience’.
WHAT IS 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology. It is designed to increase speed, reduce latency, and improve flexibility of wireless services.
5G technology has a theoretical peak speed of 20 Gbps, while the peak speed of 4G is only 1 Gbps.
5G also promises lower latency, which can improve the performance of business applications as well as other digital experiences (such as online gaming, videoconferencing, and self-driving cars).
‘What Three has achieved here at Stamford Bridge is ground-breaking and a testament to the strength of its 5G network,’ said Guy Laurence, CEO at Chelsea FC.
‘The possibilities of how we can enhance the fan and stadium experience are endless and our team is excited that it is now live.
‘Staying connected is essential for fans and mobile has become an integral part of matchdays. 5G enables us to begin to merge the physical and digital for ultimate fan experiences.
‘With Three beside us, we will be able to deliver the next generation of connected entertainment and continue our quest to be one of the most innovative clubs in world football.’
The fifth-generation wireless standard, which began widespread deployment around the world in 2019, provides faster connectivity and more bandwidth, meaning higher download speeds for internet users, and more capacity and connectivity for billions of devices.
It provides an advance on 4G, which will still be available at Stamford Bridge going forward, and 3G, which is gradually being phased out by the UK network providers.
According to Three, a big problem when attending a football match, or even a music concert or festival, is that 4G doesn’t have the capacity to support thousands of users at one time, which leads to slow internet and frustrated attendees.
The five ex-players from Chelsea’s playing history visited their old ground to help mark the rollout. Fan favourite Zola made more than 300 competitive appearances for Chelsea and scored the goal that won the club its first European silverware since 1971
Three customers who have a 5G-compatible devices – whether the iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy S21 or Google Pixel 5a – can currently get 5G speeds of up to 250Mbps, which is enough for fast upload and download speeds, browsing and HD streaming.
A Three spokesperson told MailOnline that Stamford Bridge is the first Premier League stadium to have ‘full, seamless coverage throughout’, although rival West Ham had some parts of their stadium covered, such as VIP areas.
‘We are thrilled to be the first in the Premiership to deploy a fully operational 5G network here at Stamford Bridge,’ said Robert Finnegan, CEO at Three.
‘We are proud to partner with such an iconic club and to be able to help drive innovations in connectivity that will help shape the future fan experience at Chelsea FC and many other stadiums across the UK.
The low latency and high bandwidth of 5G means fans can therefore enjoy game, keep up with other scores, stream highlights in HD at half-time, and video call friends to meet up for a half-time drink and snack
Home of the champions: Stamford Bridge can add a 5G rollout to its list of feats as yet unachieved by any other London club
‘5G will fundamentally change the way we work and play and it will be a game-changer for the sports and entertainment business.
‘With the multiple possibilities around fan engagement and stadium management we are excited at what the future holds.’
Three is also working with the world famous club to improve network coverage for those living in the local area by installing microsites around the perimeter of the stadium.
Plans are also in place to install 5G at Chelsea’s Cobham training centre and Kingsmeadow, where Chelsea FC Women’s first team play.
Three became Chelsea FC’s official short sponsor in July 2020, replacing Japanese firm Yokohama Tyres.
When the deal was announced, Chelsea said Three will ensure Stamford Bridge is 5G-enabled within the first year of the partnership, although this was delayed slightly due to the pandemic.
EXPLAINED: THE EVOLUTION OF MOBILE BROADBAND UP TO 5G
The evolution of the G system started in 1980 with the invention of the mobile phone which allowed for analogue data to be transmitted via phone calls.
Digital came into play in 1991 with 2G and SMS and MMS capabilities were launched.
Since then, the capabilities and carrying capacity for the mobile network has increased massively.
More data can be transferred from one point to another via the mobile network quicker than ever.
5G is expected to be 100 times faster than the currently used 4G.
Whilst the jump from 3G to 4G was most beneficial for mobile browsing and working, the step to 5G will be so fast they become almost real-time.
That means mobile operations will be just as fast as office-based internet connections.
Potential uses for 5g include:
- Simultaneous translation of several languages in a party conference call
- Self-driving cars can stream movies, music and navigation information from the cloud
- A full length 8GB film can be downloaded in six seconds.
5G is expected to be so quick and efficient it is possible it could start the end of wired connections.
By the end of 2020, industry estimates claim 50 billion devices will be connected to 5G.
The evolution of from 1G to 5G. The predicted speed of 5G is more than 1Gbps – 1,000 times greater than the existing speed of 4G and could be implemented in laptops of the future