US telecommunications company Verizon has continued its 5G drive in the stadium and arena market by partnering with technology firm Cisco in a venture designed to aid the safe return of fans to venues.

Verizon Business and Cisco are working together to offer solutions combining Verizon’s 5G network and 5G Edge, a mobile computing platform for businesses, to provide a safer in-person experience.

Powered by Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband with mobile edge computing (MEC) capabilities, 5G Edge will connect with the Cisco Sports and Entertainment portfolio. The joint solution integrates with a variety of Cisco innovations including: Cisco DNA Spaces for secure location analytics, Cisco switching and data centre technology, and connected venue analytics. The two parties said the 5G and MEC environments will help deliver near real-time enablement and experiences.

Verizon and Cisco said they intend to bring stadiums a “digital, future-ready infrastructure” that helps solve pressing challenges and provide new capabilities. This will include leveraging analytics to estimate wait times associated with lines at check in, restrooms and concession stands; as well as interfaces with digital signage and mobile applications to direct patrons to alternative locations with shorter queues.

They also said the tech will help to identify crowd density and manage crowd flows with the use of digital signage and messages to venue staff to help maintain social distancing standards. “While all sports and entertainment fans are looking forward to the day they can get back to their favourite venues, many are understandably nervous about their safety in large crowds,” said Aamir Hussain, senior vice-president and chief product officer for Verizon Business.

“This solution will help put minds at ease so fans can re-enter venues with the knowledge that strong steps are being taken to safeguard their wellbeing. This is one of the many 5G-enabled experiences powered by Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband that is changing the in-person fan experience in dozens of stadiums.”

Verizon has been prolific of late in signing 5G-related partnerships with sports leagues, teams and venues. Verizon this week followed up its recent partnership with the NHL ice hockey league by signing a multi-year deal with the New Jersey Devils and the team’s Prudential Center arena.

As the exclusive 5G and wireless partner of the Devils and Prudential Center, Verizon will make the venue the first 5G-equipped indoor arena in the State of New Jersey. In February, US stock car racing organisation NASCAR agreed a multi-year partnership with Verizon under which the company will boost connectivity at its circuits.

In July, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), the highest-capacity sports venue in the world, debuted a number of new features, including 5G connectivity courtesy of Verizon and a huge new Pagoda Plaza Media Wall.

In March 2019, American football league the NFL signed a two-year innovation partnership with Verizon to develop new products and services that utilise 5G technology. This has led to a number of NFL stadia receiving 5G upgrades, including the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium ahead of its staging of this year’s Super Bowl.

Commenting on its role in the new project, Jonathan Davidson, senior vice-president and general manager of the Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group at Cisco, said: “Our combined expertise and technology innovation is furthering the evolution of 5G, creating a dynamic offering for the industry that will redefine stadium sports and entertainment for the future.

“With the power of 5G and MEC solutions, we can bring cloud-powered services closer to the edge for more flexible development of applications, helping venues to deliver new experiences better, faster and with more clarity and precision.”

Image: Verizon