A new report from telecommunications company O2 has predicted that 5G technology could boost the UK’s live entertainment sector by as much as £2.3bn (€2.74bn/$2.96bn) over the next 10 years.

The findings form part of 5th Generation Entertainment, a new piece of research conducted by O2 and data and insights consultancy Ovum. The research considers how 5G can boost entertainment businesses through customer experiences such as virtual and augmented reality.

O2 has predicted that 5G innovations will revolutionise the pre-event experience through smart ticketing and connected venues. AR-assisted shopping would also lead to shorter queues when purchasing merchandise, with fans able to try on their most-wanted pieces and accessories virtually before collecting them at a nearby stand.

O2 has also predicted that queuing for drinks at the bar could become “a thing of the past” thanks to order-in-advance systems, real-time analytics of the busiest bars and wayfinding apps. 5G would provide guests’ smartphones with greater speeds and more capacity to ensure they have a strong enough signal to utilise such features.

O2 has forecast that fans will be able to receive their very own post-show highlights reel, which would be sent directly to their device. This would be possible as event organisers are able to harness multiple camera angles and the superfast network to create quick videos for fans.

Live streams of gigs are also set to become increasingly popular, with O2 holding a partnership with MelodyVR to explore the possibilities of 5G and targeted customer journeys.

O2 has predicted that by 2028, 78 per cent of live entertainment consumer spend will be driven by 5G-enabled sports experiences, with this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo set to accelerate the growth.

Nina Bibby, O2’s chief marketing officer, said: “5G will transform how customers experience mobile, and we’re really excited by what it can do for live entertainment given it’s always been a huge part of our heritage. Whether you are one of 82,000 fans looking to buy a drink at Twickenham or you’re trying to find your friends at The O2, 5G-enabled technology can seamlessly manage these problems.

“Through our sponsorships with England Rugby, The O2, 20 iconic O2 Academy venues, and access to Priority Tickets for thousands of shows, we have always engaged customers with live experiences around key passion points in music and sport. Coupled with the reach of our extensive network, this means we’re uniquely positioned to deliver the entertainment experiences of the future.”

David Jones, senior vice-president of IT at AEG, which owns The O2 in London, added: “I’m excited by the possibilities that 5G offers to enhance the live entertainment experience for the millions of fans who come to see their favourite acts and athletes at The O2 each year. In particular, augmented reality and virtual reality technology is bandwidth-intensive, ultra-mobile, and very sensitive to latency, and 5G has been designed to address those requirements from the ground up.

“The O2 is at the forefront of O2’s 5G rollout in the UK, and I’m eager to see how the creative people who produce the hundreds of events each year at The O2 will embrace 5G and the technologies it enables, and use it to deliver fun and engaging experiences for fans.”

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