Sunderland venues to bask in all its 5G glory


5G funding boost for two Sunderland venues Image: Stadium of Light, Sunderland, Rach, CC BY 2.0

The British Esports National Esports Performance Campus (NEPC) in Sunderland (UK) is getting 5G connectivity as part of a £5.7m grant funding boost.

‘ESPORTS NEWS UK’ stated that Championship club Sunderland A.F.C.’s residence – the Stadium of Light football ground in Sunderland, England – has also gained access to the funding, which comes from the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition. It’s one of 19 projects benefiting from a Government announcement of an £88m investment in open 5G connectivity solutions across the United Kingdom.

The National Esports Performance Campus (NEPC) is an esports performance and education campus at Riverside Sunderland which will nurture and support the next generation of talent, as interest and engagement in esports grows in the United Kingdom.

The Sunderland Association Football Club is an English professional football club based in the City of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear (UK). Formed in 1879, the Sunderland plays in the Championship, the second tier of English football. The club has won six top-flight titles in the First Division, and has finished runners-up five times.

The Stadium of Light is an all-seater football stadium in Sunderland, England (UK) and the eighth and current home to the Sunderland A.F.C. With space for 49,000 spectators, the Stadium of Light is the ninth largest football stadium in England. The stadium primarily hosts the Sunderland A.F.C. home matches.

‘ESPORTS NEWS UK’ further stated that the ‘Sunderland Open Network EcosysTem (SONET)’ Project is led by the Sunderland City Council and a consortium of partners: Boldyn Networks, British Esports, Sunderland A.F.C., and Perform Green.

The Sunderland City Council is the local authority of the City of Sunderland in Tyne and Wear, England. It is a metropolitan district Council, one of five in Tyne and Wear and one of 36 in the metropolitan counties of England, and provides the majority of local Government services in Sunderland.

London (UK)-based the Boldyn Networks unlock the power of an interconnected future. Building shared communications infrastructure that enables new possibilities for connected transit, venues, enterprise, next-generation networks, and Smart Cities.

Buckinghamshire-based the British Esports Federation is the national body for esports in the United Kingdom. It was established in March 2016 to help develop the United Kingdom’s grassroots esports scene and provide an infrastructure to nurture future talent.

Cheltenham (UK)-based Perform Green Limited provides expertise delivering innovation and digital transformation and helps in creating a thriving, greener and smarter society.

Commented Chester King, British Esports head honcho, “I’m immensely proud of British Esports and our partners for securing the SONET 5G bid in Sunderland. This signifies a monumental leap forward for our new arena, part of the National Esports Performance Campus. With the power of 5G connectivity, we are poised to redefine the future of live esports and sports experiences. The arena (opening Q1 2024) will become a center for cutting-edge technology, offering players, fans and enthusiasts an unparalleled environment for growth, engagement and innovation. This milestone not only cements our commitment to the esports community but also reinforces our dedication to driving progress in the industry, both locally and on a global scale.”

The British Esports arena is coming up near the Stadium of Light.

The national body the British Esports Federation will be launching more physical locations on top of its upcoming esports performance and education campus at Riverside Sunderland this year.

The British Esports hopes to “establish Great Britain as one of the leading esports nations within the next 10 years”.

The British Esports says this move is part of its commitment to delivering on its vision of “establishing Great Britain as one of the leading esports nations globally within the next 10 years. As a founding member of the Global Esports Federation, the British Esports will be the first amongst its 120 members to have its own dedicated esports campus, ensuring that the United Kingdom is continuing to lead the development of esports education, infrastructure and opportunity.”

Added Andy Payne OBE, Chair, British Esports, “We are proud to be making a significant investment in Sunderland and the North East with a new multisite venue capable of attracting and developing the digital forward society of tomorrow. We are excited to be developing infrastructure for the United Kingdom esports ecosystem, but, as part of the UK’s national leveling up campaign, we are equally thrilled that the people of the North East will have an incredible facility on their doorstep.”

Commented Councilor Graeme Miller, Leader of the Sunderland City Council, “Sunderland is a hugely ambitious City, and one that fully embraces the transformative power of digital to bring communities together, so it is fitting that a sport that is built on digital and technology is investing so significantly here. The British Esports’ investment in Riverside Sunderland with its Performance Campus and in Sunniside (district of Sunderland) with the gaming accommodation, fits perfectly with our regeneration program, which is transforming both of these parts of the City Centre, and we’re delighted to be working closely with them to support them with their plans.”

Staying Connected

‘’ stated that the above development means faster, more reliable 4G and 5G mobile connectivity at the Stadium of Light and the new British Esports National Performance Campus in Sunderland. Visitors to these venues will be able to stay connected and benefit from more interactive, digitally-enabled facilities and services. This can include enhanced ticketing processes to make entry easier and quicker, smart venue navigation to make it easier to find one’s seat or facilities and speeding up the browsing and ordering of food and beverages (F&B).

With the lightning-fast speeds and low latency of 5G technology, the esports enthusiasts and sports fans alike can anticipate more reliable connectivity and immersive, realtime engagement. The high-speed connectivity promises seamless live streaming and interactivity of esports tournaments and live sporting events. Fans can witness every moment with real clarity, engaging in realtime statistics, augmented reality (AR) enhancements and even virtual meet-and-greets with their favorite players.

‘’ further stated that these new digital techniques will enhance fans’ experiences, for example, using AR that can overlay real-world views with digital information such as realtime identification of players, key moments and stats, or virtual reality (VR) that puts fans in an artificial but realistic 3D environment.

The augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience that combines the real world and computer-generated content. The content can span multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.

The virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience that employs pose tracking and 3D near-eye displays to give the user an immersive feel of a virtual world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment, education and business.

Enhancing the experiences of tens of thousands of visitors attending football matches, live concerts and esports tournaments is a great extension to Sunderland’s leading Smart City infrastructure and the City’s superfast 5G connectivity.

Furthermore, SONET will dramatically reduce power consumption through a much smaller footprint, positively contributing to Sunderland’s purposeful drive towards net zero across the City.

Said Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, “Whether you’re in a busy City Centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business. In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network. The projects we’re backing today with £88 million in Government research and development (R&D) investment will use innovative open radio access network (Open RAN) solutions to make our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the United Kingdom for many years to come.”

The open radio access network (Open RAN) is an ongoing shift in mobile network architectures that enables service providers the use of non-proprietary subcomponents from a variety of vendors.

Enthused Liz St Louis, Director of Smart Cities and Enabling Services at the Sunderland City Council, “Enabled by grant funding from the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition, we are delighted to launch the SONET Project. This innovative project will create a more immersive and engaging experience for the esports players and fans at the British Esports new National Esports Performance Campus in Sunderland, as well as evolving the football ground of Sunderland AFC, the Stadium of Light, to meet the needs of the future generations by providing engaging event content and interactive digital experiences. With no other esports venue in the world matching SONET’s unique Open RAN infrastructure, the National Esports Performance Campus will lead the way globally, significantly contributing to the United Kingdom’s capabilities.”

Put in Claire Venners, General Manager at Boldyn Networks North, “The Sunderland Open Network EcosysTem (SONET) Project is set to transform the way we engage with live sports and esports. By leveraging Sunderland’s advanced Smart City infrastructure and the high-speed 5G connectivity that Boldyn is deploying, visitors attending football matches, concerts and esports competitions will benefit from a large capacity network that will deliver reliable, high-speed connectivity.”

Stated Steve Davison, Sunderland A.F.C. Chief Operating Officer (COO), “This is fantastic news for the City of Sunderland and Sunderland A.F.C. We are a modern and progressive organization constantly seeking new ways to embrace innovation and technology, and the SONET Project will unlock immense potential when considering our in-stadium experience. An aligned approach from all stakeholders continues to ensure that the City of Sunderland sets the standard nationally and from concerts and events to live sport, this latest transformative milestone will allow us to take further strides forward.”

Observed Barney Smith, Founder of Perform Green, “SONET will transform the fan experience for users of the Stadium of Light and advance the capability of British Esports in the North East using Open RAN technologies at scale and high density.”

The funding for the SONET Project forms part of the Government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) £250M Open Networks R&D Fund, which is aimed at tackling the key barriers facing the adoption of open mobile networks.

The 19 successful projects in the Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) Competition will demonstrate the reliability and feasibility of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies and showcase their role in delivering resilient and future-proofed connectivity to the citizens and businesses of United Kingdom.

The ONE competition helps deliver on the United Kingdom’s ambition to be a global leader in telecom research and development through investment in cutting-edge open hardware and software.

The ONE competition was designed to demonstrate how this new way of building mobile networks can deliver fast, dependable connectivity in busy places – such as Sunderland’s iconic sports and entertainment venues – where many people need wireless connections. Instead of using only one company’s equipment, the Open RAN enables different companies’ technology to work together, which can make the network better and more flexible.

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