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The 5G VISTA Project: Key learnings

  • 6 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 12 May 2022
  • Last modified 12 May 2022
The 5G VISTA (Video in-stadia Technical Architecture) project is part of the UK Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport's (DCMS) 5G Testbeds and Trials programme, a £200 million investment in testbeds and trials across the UK to investigate new ways that 5G can boost productivity, grow existing businesses, and spark new ones.

The project has tested and demonstrated the potential of 5G Broadcast and Multicast to deliver new and exciting digital experiences to spectators at live events.  The technology developed uses a concept called Further-evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (FeMBMS) technology to support innovative use cases - to both enhance customer experience at events, and increase engagement. Whilst most mobile and internet communications are modelled on a “one-to-one” system, FeMBMS is a “one-to-many” service; it will take a single stream and send it to multiple users.

Project Vista was delivered by DTG, GWS, Rohde & Schwarz and Virgin Media O2  - with the Digital Catapult validating the business cases and assessing further applications.  This UK5G summary of the project’s key insights and learnings have been derived from the extensive report from Project Vista which is available here.   This work kicks off the Benefits Realised and Lessons Learned series—which aims to share learnings, disseminate actionable insights and enable others to subsequently  fast-track their own 5G deployment plans.

Key market opportunities

  • 5G Broadcast is particularly suited to live sports such as football and music events but there is a stronger case for applications at slow-pace sports (for example, cricket) and events where the spectator can’t see everything (such as F1, golf and music festivals with multiple stages)
  • 5G Broadcast can enhance small but important components of the experience in football and rugby matches including highlights, key moments, commentary, etc.
  • Possible fringe benefits from collateral information about the venue and where applications could be used, for example, queues in bars/toilets; special promotions; travel and local food 
  • Providing access to missed live events from home is worthwhile, with digital forms of engagement appealing in particular to younger fans 
  • The most appealing commercial opportunities centre around: event-related activities; Formula 1; golf; cricket; festivals; season ticket/membership-related activities/ ‘privileged access’ content

​​“For sports to stand out from other entertainment businesses, in and outside of game-days, they need to develop the right engagement strategy for the right fan. Sport’s global appeal is rooted in its unpredictability. No two plays are the same and leagues must recognise that the same is true of their fans,” says the “Fan of the Future” report. 

5G deployment insights and learnings

  • Costs: Creating and maintaining the app; marketing; support infrastructure; content creation; rights management and installation all require a sizeable investment
    It’s also important to ensure the solution is cost-competitive with Wi-Fi 
  • The solution provider should be independent of individual stakeholders. To maximise commercial benefit, content should be made available across all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), clubs, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and rights owners
  • Expected functionality and features from a new app would include: 
    • Easy access (download and install) via a single app (likely to be the ticket-/ season-holder app) 
    • Intuitive, user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI)
    • Ability to support data-heavy apps including live-streaming video, real-time game and player statistics, live Multiview (choosing camera angle) and replays of goals and key moments
    • Scalable with guaranteed Quality of Service  
    • Retail/concessions/travelling/parking 
    • Engaging social media features (more like Snapchat, TikTok and Substack rather than WhatsApp)
    • Enable user-generated content
  • User data control and privacy: Venue owners and rights holders should decide what content fans can access, capture user data, track usage and target content. In today’s big data and precision marketing world, this kind of control is essential

Additional findings 

  • Consumers are indifferent to the underlying technology—and they will not pay extra for a VISTA-like service unless they see a clear benefit  
  • Clarification around content dissemination and exclusivity in relation to rights management is fundamental to the success of any such service 
  • Sports clubs and event organisers want to “own the fans” and have access to their user data. This requires some linkage with ticketing and/or club membership
  • Sports clubs and brands are more trusted than MNOs or social media companies
  • Feeds and management of feeds can be offloaded, but more clarification is needed regarding the management of metadata and streams, and the overall end-to-end service

Engaging key stakeholders

As ever, technology is only part of the story. Engaging with priority stakeholder groups is an important element of any service development deployment. Based on the key areas outlined— alongside market research and workshop feedback— the following groups have been identified:

5G Vista Stakeholder Table ONE
5G Vista Stakeholder Table TWO
5G Vista Stakeholder Table THREE

Making a business case 

Project VISTA modelled the commercial viability of an app that augments the football stadium experience with additional live broadcast content and coverage of key moments.  The project assumed the content included pre-game news and information, post-match analysis and broadcast of significant incidents during the match, allowing fans to directly view action they would normally see on big screens. They also envisioned the app could show replays but would not allow for sharing outside of the match environment, pausing or rewinding of content. Then, the team ran calculations for clubs with 15k, 30k, 50k and 100k total numbers of fans,  using the following financial modelling assumptions:

  • 30% of fans subscribed to a basic service (£3 per month) and 15% to a premium service (£5 per month)
  • Capital expenditures (CAPEX) of £150K is amortised over 5 years and does not include costs (CAPEX/
  • Operating expenses- OPEX) of the private 5G network 
  • Hosting cost in the public cloud is £5/month/server 
  • Apple and Google platform hosting costs at 30% 

This model critically indicates that the solution is viable even for small size clubs (down to around 20K), producing a modest 26% gross margin. Anything smaller is not commercially viable as it barely covers its costs, but for club sizes of over 30K, the model produces a reasonable gross margin of 40% which increases to a healthy 60% for larger clubs with over 100k fans


The 5th generation of mobile network telecommunications represents a step-change in network performance capability, providing business-grade service levels, reliability and availability incomparable with earlier generations. 5G can deliver speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G, ultra-low latency, high reliability, and increased capacity. The work conducted by Project VISTA clearly demonstrates the technical capabilities of 5G for broadcast and multicast in-stadia, but of equal value are the insights and recommendations outlined here around the commercial considerations and viability around deploying such a service.

Read the 5G VISTA sustainability report in full here.

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