Mobile operator O2 claims to be deploying the “fastest free stadium Wi-Fi in the UK” at the London Stadium, which forms part of a tie-up between their business division and networking giant Cisco. Unfortunately they haven’t provided any information on expected speeds or backhaul capacity to help backup their claims.
Apparently the project includes an upgrade to London Stadium’s original fibre backbone infrastructure, which has been in-place since the London 2012 Olympic Games. The cable is understood to have been “enhanced with new high-speed data cabling” via O2 Business (this makes it sounds like they replaced the cable but it would make more sense if they had upgraded the bits at either end of the existing cable).
Meanwhile the new Wi-Fi access points are said to be using similar technology to that in use at The O2 Arena, Twickenham Stadium and the Coca-Cola London Eye, which doesn’t tell us much. The new system will be tested during November and December 2019, prior to a full launch in February 2020.
Graham Gilmore, CEO of London Stadium, said:
“It’s our ambition to be the most connected stadium in Europe, and the delivery of super-fast Wi-Fi is just the beginning of these plans.
We’re committed to providing a world-class event day experience all year round, whether you visit London Stadium to watch Premier League football, Major League Baseball, international athletics, or an amazing concert, our goal is for fans to have access to the fastest Wi-Fi of any stadium in the UK, direct from their seats.”
Katy Liddell, Director of Business Sales & Service O2, said:
“We’re very proud to be working with London Stadium to deliver fast, free, High Density Wi-Fi in such an iconic, multi-purpose venue. We know how important it is for people to rely on consistent connectivity, wherever they are – and we’re looking forward to helping sports and entertainment fans benefit from a seamless Wi-Fi service at every event and fixture.”
The project has been aided by London Stadium’s unique architecture, too. Using the venue’s cantilevered roof and gantry, O2 Business has installed a bespoke overhead antenna design to support Cisco’s High-Density Stadium Wi-Fi hardware, allowing blanket coverage for every seat.”
We know of various WiFi networks that are connected via Gigabit capable capacity links (e.g. BT’s InLinkUK kiosks), although stadium focused deployments often need multi-Gigabit capacity. However there is no easy way to test the performance of WiFi across all UK stadiums and as such we’d take that “fastest” claim with a pinch of salt, pending some independent data to confirm it.