The National Football League (NFL) has agreed a 10-year extension to its partnership with US telecommunications company Verizon in a deal that will seek to continue to utilise 5G to support innovation and technology adoption throughout the league and its venues.

The partnership seeks to build on the more than decade-long relationship between the NFL and Verizon that paved the way for the installation of the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service in parts of 25 NFL stadia.

Over the next decade, Verizon and the NFL will look to utilise 5G to unlock advancements that could have the ability to impact management, scouting, training, health and safety and game day operations.

“The NFL has embraced innovation for decades to bring fans closer to the game, from instant replay technology to outfitting players with microphones,” said Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon.

“Our longstanding relationship, and swift delivery of 5G connectivity in 25 stadiums, has created new ways to bring fans even closer to the action. As we embark on the next 10 years, our work with the NFL will continue to enhance and transform not only the fan experience, but also has the potential to improve player training and overall venue operations.”

The deal has been announced today (Thursday) ahead of the 2021 regular season kick-off, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers set to face the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium (pictured). In 2019 Verizon deployed 5G Ultra Wideband in parts of 13 stadia to coincide with the NFL regular season kick-off.

Over the last two years, Verizon has expanded 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity within those venues and surrounding areas, and has partnered with the NFL on in-stadium fan experiences like Verizon 5G Multi-View, which enables fans to view up to seven simultaneous camera angles and AR overlays of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats on select 5G-enabled phones.

Verizon 5G Multi-View will continue to be available during the 2021 season in select NFL club phone apps for fans in-stadium on gameday. Today, 5G Ultra Wideband is live in select parts of 25 NFL stadiums and more than 60 sports and entertainment venues across the US.

Last year, Verizon invested over $80m (£57.8m/€67.7m) for permanent network enhancements to its network to support the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium and around Tampa.

The stadium and the surrounding areas received substantial 5G enhancements, including 70 miles of high speed fibre, an upgraded distributed antenna system (DAS), and 281 small cell antennas that will provide coverage at events in and around the stadium as well as Downtown Tampa, Ybor City and the Tampa Riverwalk.

SoFi Stadium, home of Super Bowl LVI, is Verizon’s largest 5G stadium build to date. The stadium and surrounding campus of Hollywood Park were built with 5G Ultra Wideband at the core by partnering early in the design process.

In January, Verizon committed to providing its 5G Ultra Wideband service in 28 NFL stadia by the end of 2021 as it expands its coverage across the league. In March 2019, the NFL signed a two-year innovation partnership with Verizon to develop new products and services that utilise 5G technology.

Commenting on the new deal, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: “For the past decade, Verizon has been one of our key technology partners, helping with everything from digital distribution of NFL content, engaging our fans at the NFL’s biggest events, enhancing communications throughout the NFL ecosystem and upgrading technology within stadiums across the League.

“As we look to the next decade with our trusted partner, Verizon will help us capitalise on the promise of 5G technology, paving the way for the future of the game and delivering incredible experiences for millions of NFL fans.”

Image: Jerry Glaser