Auckland’s Eden Park and Porto’s Estádio do Dragão have agreed deals with telecommunications companies to make their venues 5G enabled.

Spark, in partnership with Eden Park, will be switching on 5G at New Zealand’s national stadium tomorrow (Saturday), where a 50,000-strong crowd are expected to attend the venue’s first ever concert.

SIX60 will make history with the first concert after a decision by independent commissioners in February granted Eden Park the right to host up to six music events per year. Through the tie-up with Spark, Eden Park will become the first 5G-connected stadium in Auckland.

Spark’s technology director, Mark Beder, said: “One of the key differences between 4G and 5G is its ability to enable mass connectivity, which will take us from a world of not just connecting people, but to a world of connecting almost anything. 

“In the future, 5G will completely transform the way we experience live events. This could be anything from using virtual reality to provide fans with front-row concert experiences from their couch, improving in-person experiences with augmented reality, or reducing the time waiting in a queue for drinks and food with artificial intelligence self-service checkouts. The opportunities to improve customer experience and business efficiency are endless.”  

At this stage, coverage extends over 75% of Eden Park with 5G available in the East and West Stand, the No.1 Field, the lower South Stand and part of the lower North Stand, with the view of expanding this further over the coming months.  

Eden Park CEO Nick Sautner said: “We are thrilled to work alongside Spark to enhance the experience at New Zealand’s national stadium with 5G for both fans at major events and functions throughout the year.

“Technology plays an integral role in delivering unforgettable events and we look forward to continuing to upgrade our fan experience through partnerships with brands like Spark.”

Meanwhile, Altice Portugal has equipped Estádio do Dragão, the home stadium of Primeira Liga giant FC Porto, with 5G technology. The work was completed in time for Porto’s 1-0 Primeira Liga win over Vitória yesterday (Thursday), but Altice has bemoaned the current slow pace of rolling out 5G for consumers.

Portugal is currently said to be one of only three European Union countries not to offer its citizens access to 5G networks, Malta and Lithuania being the others. This has been put down to delays in the 5G spectrum auction process, overseen by telecoms regulator ANACOM, caused by COVID-19.

Estádio do Dragão joins Altice Arena and the Cidade do Futebol complex, both in Lisbon, and the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, as sports venues that Altice has introduced 5G technology to.

Commenting on the ongoing delays, Alexandre Fonseca, executive president of Altice Portugal, said: “We did all the preparatory work that we had to do for 5G. We installed fibre, we did demonstrations, we implemented the first antennas, we did the first live 5G transmission with (broadcaster) RTP, we did all this and we are ready. 

“We’ve been ready for two years. The country is not ready, it is the regulator, and in this case, apparently also due to the Government’s complacency.”

Earlier this month, Porto’s Primeira Liga rival, Benfica, announced that its Estádio Da Luz had become the first major Portuguese stadium to be equipped with 5G technology through a partnership with telecoms company NOS.

Image: Eden Park