Stamford Bridge has become the first Premier League stadium to have a 5G network across its entirety.
Chelsea, in conjunction with sponsors Three, have deployed a fully operational 5G network at Stamford Bridge in the hope of driving innovation in connectivity to shape the future of fan experience across stadiums in the UK.
The partnership will also seek to improve network coverage for those living in the local area, with a number of microsites around the stadium.
The Blues entered an initial three-year agreement, believed to be worth a figure comparable to the £40million per year agreement that had been in place with Yokohama Tyres, with the mobile company as official shirt partners starting in the 2020/21 season, and from the outset had the ambition to ensure Stamford Bridge was 5G-enabled.
While the Covid-19 pandemic presented obstacles to the initial hope of bringing the technology to west London within the first year of the deal, the age of Stamford Bridge and other improvements presented other problems to overcome.
Installation was completed via abseilers, to access the upper parts of the stadium with the centre of the stadium out of use as the Blues’ pitch was reconstructed in the summer of 2021 ahead of a busy season.
Despite renovations and upgrades throughout its 144-year history, the dense concrete that makes up Stamford Bridge results in a number of connectivity problems. As a consequence, numerous sources are located in the stadium bowl, the concourse, the player’s dressing room and beyond to assist in dealing with the vast capacity of the stadium.
Nevertheless, the Blues’ partnership has meant they are the first in the division to have access to the technology, ahead of the newer and more modern stadia of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City.
While Three customers with a 5G device are currently enjoying speeds of up to 250Mbps, the company has also expanded its 4G capacity, to provide access to improved in-stadium capabilities.
The club hope to enhance fan interaction and engagement with a number of possibilities touted.
Augmented reality overlays could be used for fans to study in-game player statistics in real-time such as ground covered, top speed, shots on target and passes made.
Multiple cameras around the ground mean supporters in the stadium could have the easy option of viewing a moment of play or goal from a different angle, such as the other end of the ground or from the substitutes’ bench.
Guy Laurence, CEO at Chelsea FC, added: “What Three has achieved here at Stamford Bridge is ground-breaking and a testament to the strength of its 5G network. The possibilities of how we can enhance the fan and stadium experience are endless and our team is excited that it is now live.
“Staying connected is essential for fans and mobile has become an integral part of matchdays. 5G enables us to begin to merge the physical and digital for ultimate fan experiences. With Three beside us, we will be able to deliver the next generation of connected entertainment and continue our quest to be one of the most innovative clubs in world football.”
Plans are also in place to install 5G at the Cobham training centre and Kingsmeadow, where Chelsea FC Women’s first team play.