Ericsson scores quick win with Chelsea FC wifi partnership

Ericsson has announced the continuation of its partnership with Chelsea FC, focusing more on an area which it has dubbed ‘Small Cell-as-a-Service’.

Acting as the connectivity partner for Stamford Bridge, Ericsson will design, build and operate the network on the customer’s behalf, providing free wifi via the Small Cell-as-a-Service connected venue business. As a result, fans will be able to update their Facebook page, find a local pub and even keep track of where the nearest post-match scrap will be taking place. Never again will Chelsea fans have to walk home with an out an out-of-date profile pic, sober and bruiseless; winners all around.

“Our research indicates that people want to use their digital devices wherever they go – and the urge to connect is even greater at a Chelsea FC home game,” said Arun Bansal, SVP of Europe & Latin America at Ericsson.

“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.”

This is an example of a partnership which we can see becoming more popular over the next few years. With the fortunes on offer through the digital economy, it won’t be too long before entertainment venues will start creating their own networks for punters. In sport it makes a lot of sense as well.

If controlling access to the customer and monetizing said gateway with third party-advertising or location services is a potential business model for operators, the same could be said for football clubs (for example). They already have a host of sponsors and partners, all of whom are looking for better ways to engage customers through the emotional connection between the fan and the football club. By removing the operator from the connectivity equation, the football club control the gateway, and therefore the revenues which can be charged as an entry fee through said gateway.

It sounds simple, but in practise it is complicated to get right. Looking around the digital community, there are only a handful of companies which have nailed the walled garden business model, with Facebook sitting top of the pile. We’re slightly pessimistic as to whether a football club would be able to make such a business model work, but who knows.

For a more in-depth view on the technical aspects of the partnership, check out Iain Morris’ piece on our sister-site Light Reading.

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