Legia Warsaw fans set for connectivity boost with small cell Ericsson deal

24 Feb 2015

Football club Legia Warsaw will be the first of its kind to offer a small cell service to its fans in its stadium under an agreement with telecoms company Ericsson.

The agreement sees visitors to the club’s stadium gain carrier-grade Wi-Fi connectivity – something evidently lacking in many major sporting facilities around the world – and a targeted app to allow spectators to access live video broadcasts and newsfeeds, order fast food or buy merchandise.

Indeed the Warsaw club is following in the footsteps of the entire city of San Francisco, California, where Ericsson yesterday announced it would install 400 of these devices to boost the coverage of its inhabitants.

These devices will be integrated into street lamps and will generally blend into the surroundings within San Francisco’s financial district, SOMA, Market Street and North Beach neighbourhoods, according to Gigaom.

Elsewhere, AT&T has been installing similar structures around the US for awhile now, but the San Francisco approach is notable for its size.

Pretty little things

The beauty of small cells is their tiny size and attractive cost. They ultimately offer very limited coverage (in terms of geographical reach), however, a stadium such as Legia Warsaw’s, which holds more than 30,000 fans, is an ideal place to investigate just how beneficial this could be for tens of thousands of fans.

Add to that the growing significance of social media in live events and the thirst for connectivity amongst the general paying public, and it will be interesting to see how this all works out.

Indeed small cell technology will be something to look out for at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next week. Nokia is another provider looking at the technology as the communications world looks to shed some of its bulk.

“Thousands of people turn up to watch Legia Warsaw play football and the club naturally wants to keep it that way,” said Jean-Claude Geha, VP and head of managed services at Ericsson.  

“By supplementing the network capacity provided by local operators with carrier-grade Wi-Fi, we can ensure that large crowds of visiting fans can continue to share photos, tweets and emails – while also introducing value-added services that football fans can access via a customised mobile app.

“Small cell as a service is a business model that ensures we can do all of this in the most cost-effective way, while working closely with our customer as a partner to provide a superior experience for end users.”

Fan on a smartphone via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic