Stadium MK, home of League One football club Milton Keynes Dons, has been selected to take part in a UK Government-backed trial to explore the potential of 5G to improve people’s lives and help build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nine projects have today (Wednesday) been granted funding as part of a £28.3m (€31.8m/$38.7m) joint investment between government and businesses to test how the country can seize the full benefits of 5G and help British industries capitalise on the power of modern technology.

The Milton Keynes 5G (MK5G) project has been granted Government funding of £2,397,243 to go towards its total value of £4,103,022. Milton Keynes Council and its partners will test out 5G applications at Stadium MK to illustrate how it can empower other major venues to boost efficiency and create better experiences for visitors and staff in the future.

The trials will include using driverless shuttles and road vehicles for moving people and goods across the site, autonomous surveillance vehicles and drones for enhancing security, and testing out robots and drones for goods delivery and hospitality use.

John Cove, director of MK Dons, said: “We have been able to bring together a world class team to integrate and exploit 5G capability in a dynamic real world environment – this will truly demonstrate how Stadium MK, home of MK Dons, working with MK council and our partners can use new technology to support a major international sporting and cultural venue.”

Sports venues in London are also set to benefit from the scheme through telecommunication company O2’s ‘Project Vista’, which has been granted Government funding of £1,307,972 out of its total value of £2,334,844.

This project will harness 5G to deliver “new and exciting” in-stadium digital experiences. The project will deliver next generation viewing experiences for event spectators by providing live multi-angle HD video streams and interactive content from the event direct to devices in stadia and across the UK.

The end goal is to demonstrate consumer demand and deliver the business case to enable 5G-powered sporting events in the near future. The consortium is led by Members Association DTG (Digital TV Group) working in partnership with Digital Catapult, GWS, O2 Telefonica and Rohde & Schwarz. O2’s venue interests include naming rights to The O2 arena in London.

Brendan O’Reilly, chief technology officer at O2 Telefonica, said: “We are excited to play our part in the development of this groundbreaking initiative, working with industry specialists to create something innovative and exciting that will not only enhance our customers’ experience at events, but add a whole new and exciting dimension to live sports.”

The nine projects will form part of 5G Create, in turn part of the Government’s £200m investment in testbeds and trials across the UK to explore new ways that 5G can boost productivity, grow existing businesses or spark new ones. In the competition’s second round, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has provided £15.2m to be shared across the nine projects, with the remaining £13.1m coming from project partners.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman, said: “5G is about so much more than faster mobile internet speeds so we’re investing millions to help some of Britain’s brightest innovators explore the huge potential of the technology to improve and enrich our lives.

“The projects we’ve selected will demonstrate how the blistering speeds of 5G can put some rocket fuel in our economy and help businesses bounce back from the pandemic.”

Image: Richard Humphrey/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size