Communications technology and services specialist Ericsson is to become connectivity partner for Stamford Bridge – Chelsea Football Club’s home stadium in Fulham, London. The agreement is for an initial two years which after which it will be reviewed. Around that time, Chelsea are set to move to another temporary stadium venue while Stamford Bridge is redeveloped to give additional seating capacity.
Free WiFi coverage will be provided via the Small Cell as a Service connected venue business model whereby Ericsson designs, builds and operates the network on the customer’s behalf. As a result, Chelsea FC will be able to provide fans throughout the stadium with a richer experience that enables them to interact digitally with each other, the club, friends and family.
In winning their fifth Premier League title in 2016/2017, Chelsea FC sold out every home match day at Stamford Bridge. Many fans used their smartphones to share photos and videos via social media, often stretching cellular networks to the limit. To ensure visitors can enjoy a seamless digital experience, Ericsson will design, build and operate a carrier-grade Wi-Fi access network and then manage it on Chelsea FC’s behalf.
“We look forward to a rich partnership with Ericsson which will directly assist the thousands of fans who come regularly to Stamford Bridge,” declared Chris Townsend, Chelsea FC commercial director. “Ericsson leads the way in providing innovative digital solutions and we welcome them to the Chelsea family.”
Gary Twelvetree, director of marketing, Chelsea, described the partnership as “the next step” in making the fan experience more rewarding. “The phone has become an integral part of the brands experience,” he added.
According to Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President, Europe and Latin America, Ericsson, the company’s research indicates that people want to use their digital devices wherever they go, with the urge to connect “even greater” at a Chelsea FC home game. “Through this partnership, we will ensure the connectivity at Stamford Bridge matches the quality of the football and look forward to exploring further options that will enable Chelsea FC to take the digital experience to the next level.”
Small Cell as a Service supports service providers’ cellular go-to-market models, enables businesses to monetise WiFi, provides a business case for network build-out and improves end-user experience. In 2015, Poland’s Legia Warsaw became the first football club in Europe to sign a Small Cell as a Service contract with Ericsson. In 2016, Ericsson became the connectivity partner for the Ricoh Arena stadium in Coventry, England, home to Aviva Premiership rugby team Wasps and Wasps Netball.
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