Venue Technology News: Verizon, Bird’s Nest and Mexican Baseball League

Verizon has announced the deployment of 5G Ultra Wideband in 14 additional arenas and has signed multi-year agreements with the 15 NBA basketball teams who play at these venues, while the telecommunications company has detailed further innovation efforts in ice hockey’s NHL through trials that have taken place at the New Jersey Devils’ Prudential Center.

Verizon, which this month agreed a deal with Oak View Group to become the exclusive 5G and wireless partner of UBS Arena, Climate Pledge Arena and Coachella Valley Arena, has said its latest agreement brings the total number of arenas and stadiums it has enabled with 5G to more than 60. 

Verizon’s new team partnerships and 5G Ultra Wideband-enabled venues include:

Cleveland Cavaliers – Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Denver Nuggets – Ball Arena

Detroit Pistons – Little Caesars Arena

Golden State Warriors – Chase Center

LA Clippers/Los Angeles Lakers – Staples Center

Memphis Grizzlies – FedExForum

New York Knicks – Madison Square Garden

Oklahoma City Thunder – Chesapeake Energy Arena

Phoenix Suns – Phoenix Suns Arena

Portland Trail Blazers – Moda Center

Sacramento Kings – Golden 1 Center

Utah Jazz – Vivint Arena

Washington Wizards – Capital One Arena

Verizon was previously announced as the official 5G mobile partner of the Philadelphia 76ers. The new team partnerships, combined with the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network, can enhance applications like ShotTracker, enabling its sensor-based technology to collect and share game stats with low latency, faster and more accurately than any other platform. 

ShotTracker, a Verizon Ventures portfolio company, is currently being tested at the Verizon 5G Performance Center, the practice facility for the Phoenix Suns. With this technology, Verizon said teams and broadcasters have the potential to use this data to automate the tracking of player shot selection, ball movement and player efficiency to provide near real-time, in-game analysis.

“As fans return to live events, the need to reimagine the in-arena experience and operations has accelerated and 5G Ultra Wideband is a critical component,” said Brian Mecum, vice-president of device technology for Verizon. “The deployment of 5G in these arenas is the foundation for unlocking future fan experiences and solutions for venue operations.”

Meanwhile, Verizon said it is testing how 5G Ultra Wideband can bring ice hockey fans in the stands closer to the action on the rink by giving them real-time player stats when they point their 5G phone at the action.

The company has been using 5G and mobile edge compute to power select trials for in-venue, interactive applications with the National Hockey League, such as real-time access to video highlights and player tracking data using augmented reality (AR).

As part of Verizon’s official 5G partnership with the NHL, the company is currently working with arena operators to install Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband in select US arenas. Verizon recently tested an AR fan experience that leverages 5G Edge, a mobile edge computing platform, at a Devils game at the Prudential Center.

Verizon signed a multi-year deal with the Devils and the Prudential Center in October. With immersiv.io’s AR application, ARISE, running on Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength, testers were able to point their 5G device at any player on the ice and see real-time stats overlaid in AR, such as player speed, time on ice and historical stats.

“Hockey is such a fast-paced game that only 5G and edge compute can provide real-time stats or multiple camera angles personalised to each fan in the stands on their phone,” said Kyle Malady, chief technology officer at Verizon. “We’re developing cutting-edge applications powered by 5G, mobile edge compute and AR now so that when more fans return to venues, there will be new benefits to the live experience.”

China Unicom, Huawei unite for Bird’s Nest venture

Chinese telecommunications companies China Unicom and Huawei have joined forces to unveil a 5G indoor ubiquitous Gigabit network in the National Stadium, the Beijing venue more popularly known as the Bird’s Nest.

The venture is part of the joint 5G Capital initiative between the two companies. They said that combining the 5G LampSite digital indoor network products, that support an ultra-wide bandwidth of 300 MHz, with the distributed Massive MIMO technology allows the network to deliver a perceived data rate of above 1 Gbps in 90% of the grandstand area.

The two companies stated this level of performance fulfils the requirement for ubiquitous Gigabit experience in the stadium, providing the infrastructure required to scale up smart applications, such as AR services in large venues.

Yang Peng, deputy general manager of China Unicom Beijing’s Network Division, said: “By jointly initiating the 5G Capital initiative with Huawei, we aim to build ubiquitous high-quality 5G networks.

“With the deployment of the 300-MHz LampSite pRRUs and distributed Massive MIMO in the National Stadium, China Unicom Beijing can now provide the ultra-large network capacity required to provide the audience with immersive experience while preparing networks for smart applications such as AR with ubiquitous Gigabit connections.”

Mexican Baseball League connects with NOX

In Latin America, the Mexican Baseball League (LMB) has agreed a partnership with telecoms operator NOX which it states will make it the country’s best connected sports league.

In the first stage, NOX has installed fibre optics in all stadiums, which will have a positive impact on game broadcasts through dedicated links in all ballparks and homologation of HD and 4K cameras.

In a second stage, NOX will seek to take the digital experience of fans in each stadium to an unprecedented level with quality connectivity, as well as AI solutions that will allow them to choose their consumer preferences.

Horacio de la Vega, executive president of the LMB, said: “Today’s world moves at the speed of light and having NOX as a strategic ally and official sponsor of the LMB moves us towards innovation to improve the (broadcast) transmissions that are generated in all stadiums, as well as having a fan experience on a par with the best leagues in the world.”

Image: Andrew nyr/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size