Connected stadiums

While football continues behind closed doors, it’s reassuring to know that when fans are able to return, their connectivity needs are well taken care of. In a recent article published in the Radio Times, they rated the best 12 football stadiums in the world. Real Wireless has been involved in the specification, deployment and ongoing management of the wireless technology in both of the top two over a period of 15 years.

Our expertise was called upon for the design, implementation and ongoing management of wireless technology systems (cellular, Wi-Fi, PMR and Tetra) in both Wembley and Tottenham Hotspurs’ new stadiums. Wembley opened in 2007 with Tottenham Hotspur following in 2019. The parallels and differences between the operational and visitor needs for these two stadiums, built just 12 years apart is very noticeable.

In 2007, the smartphone was an unknown term – Apple wouldn’t launch the first iPhone in the UK until the following year – and data accounted for a tiny amount of mobile traffic, just 15PB.  Fast forward to 2019, and the opening of Tottenham Hotspurs stadium, mobile data traffic accounted for around 29,000 PB in 2019. This exponential growth meant that the infrastructure requirements that were deployed for mobile services in Wembley when it opened were, while similar, at a significantly different scale to those deployed in Tottenham twelve years later.

Similarly, the experience we gained at Wembley through the early development of the operational radio system requirements & design together with the ongoing support of radio communications in the stadium on event days (Real Wireless have personnel in the control room for every event at the stadium), was used to help develop and inform the strategy for radio communications at Tottenham. This is an essential requirement to help ensure the safe running of events in stadiums of this size.

We have also seen the evolution of the emergency services communications systems through these two stadiums with Wembley being the first stadium in the UK to have a dedicated in-building Tetra system to provide the Airwave service to police, ambulance and fire staff. Tottenham is the first new stadium in the UK that is capable, at the time of opening, of supporting both the legacy Airwave service and the new emergency services network (ESN) that is due to become live in the next few years.

The specification and delivery of effective wireless technology in these environments can be very challenging but the experience Real Wireless has built up through the development of these two stadiums allows us to be best placed to support the technology needs of other stadia.