Nokia Tests Next-Generation Wireless Solutions for Better Connectivity in Stadiums

Nokia and the Wireless Institute in the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame have successfully tested applications based on Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC). This software platform delivers flexibility, scalability and efficiency to networks with multiple base stations in order to improve speed of access to data services in congested areas. The live tests were carried out at Compton Ice Arena with a vision of scaling the solution for the university's iconic football stadium and to see how the technology can help enhance user experience during sporting/other events.

People attending sports and music events increasingly expect reliable mobile connectivity in order to access related content like player performance stats, view replays and multiple camera angles, and connect to social media. But in venues such as stadiums, high demand for content is often limited by inconsistent or overloaded Wi-Fi and cellular coverage resulting in unreliable service availability.

Notre Dame stadium hosts more than 80,000 fans for football games six or seven weekends each fall. With consistently high attendance and people frequently experiencing poor coverage issues, Nokia and Notre Dame's Wireless Institute set out to test Wi-Fi with two MEC-based applications:

  • Edge Video Orchestration (EVO) - provides options to view four video streams from different angles in real time, with a less than 500-millisecond delay
  • Augmented Reality (AR) - an AR-based gaming experience where information can be overlaid on devices over streamed video

Both applications used Nokia's low-latency MEC platform and its AirFrame server. The trial also tested the MEC applications with a feature enabling connective to multiple radios, optimizing data flow through Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Using Nokia's Flexi Zone small cell base stations and AirScale Wi-Fi access points, the test found that the technology can significantly improve data throughput in venues such as stadiums where there is a dense concentration of mobile users all trying to access the network and content simultaneously.