Implementation of 5G at Allianz Arena
In light of the latest ESSMA benchmark report ESSMA interviewed Benjamin Steen, Head of Customer Care, Digital Licencing & Stadium to see how the record champions are pushing ahead, in cooperation with their partner Deutsche Telekom, to offer their fans an extraordinary stadium experience.
ESSMA: Could you briefly explain what 5G is and why Bayern Munich has invested to become one of the first stadiums in Europe with full 5G coverage?
Benjamin Steen: 5G will become the new mobile standard. It offers a lower latency, a higher speed, higher reliability and better security. It will be much faster than any Wi-Fi or 4G network and therefore allow fans to interact more with faster downloading and uploading. Together with our partner Deutsche Telekom, we have in- vested to bring full 5G coverage to the Allianz Arena, which I believe makes us the first stadium in the Bundesliga to do so. We have had several test cases and discussions with test groups in the last 2 years to determine whether we needed this new technology in the stadium and what it could pro- vide for our fans. As we aren’t IT experts, we felt it was impor- tant to take our time to learn more about the technology and what it would mean for the stadium before implementing it.
ESSMA: What is the goal behind implementing 5G in Allianz Arena?Benjamin Steen: Our first and by far most important goal with this new technology is to improve experience and service for fans. We all know what 5G promises to do, the important part is how we translate this into a better experience on matchdays and non-matchdays. That means new digital services & technologies and a faster & more stable connection but at the same time we have to make sure that this doesn’t become disruptive for our fans who just want to watch the match on the pitch for 90 mins. It has to provide benefits for those who are interested, all the while being non-intrusive for those who are not. We have to understand what is well received by the fans and what is not. That takes a lot of discussion and interaction to learn what they really want. From every 50 ideas that we have, probably only 5 will survive and finally be implemented in the end. When implementing the technology, we also have to take a broad view and keep the whole customer journey in mind. From finding parking spaces over digital wayfinding to ordering food and drinks from your seat.... we have to look at all of that and see how 5G could possibly improve it. We have to make the user journey as easy and enjoyable as possible for each and every fan.
Our first and by far most important goal with this new technology is to improve experience and service for fans.
ESSMA: When do you expect fans to really start using 5G? When do you think 5G will become common practice to the general public?
ESSMA: Can 5G be used to learn more about consumer behavior and thereby increase matchday revenue in Allianz Arena?Benjamin Steen:Yes, 5G will enable us to gather data, but for Bayern Munich this is not the main goal. As I said before the main goal is always to offer fans the best possible experience and service. If we focus on offering the fans a better experience the revenue will increase as a logical consequence. Anyhow, it is difficult to measure the ROI for a connectivity network. Wi-Fi, the stadium app, 5G, digital services... all play an important role and you have to take a broad view to see if it is worth it for your club or stadium. In the end, there are so many possibilities to generate more revenue through connectivity both for the club and our sponsor partners, but the first goal has to be to improve the experience for the fans.
ESSMA: Finally, do you believe stadiums will adopt any other big changes in terms of connectivity and technology in the near future?Benjamin Steen: That is like predicting the weather! It is very difficult to say. I believe that we don’t necessarily need more technology in the stadium, rather we need to optimize the best technologies that improve the service and the experience for the fans even further. We have to find the balance between innovation and what is actually useful. We have to accept that sometimes less is more and focus on what brings additional value.
I believe that we don’t necessarily need more technology in the stadium, rather we need to optimize the best technologies that improve the service and the experience for the fans even further.