Manchester United begins Extreme approach to upgraded Wi-Fi

The new team may have made a shaky start, squeezing a somewhat controversial win, but for Manchester United fans attending the first game of the 2023/24 season against Wolverhampton Wanderers, what couldn’t be questioned was the enhancement to the Wi-Fi infrastructure at the iconic Old Trafford designed to elevate fan matchday experiences – with technology, at least.

The second-most successful English football club behind Liverpool, Manchester United boasts a 145-year heritage and claims to have developed a world-leading sports brand and a global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers.The club said that its large, passionate community provides it with “a worldwide platform to generate significant revenue from multiple sources, including sponsorship, merchandising, product licensing, new media and mobile, broadcasting and match day”.

Extreme Networks became the club’s official Wi-Fi network solutions and Wi-Fi analytics provider in 2022, with the commitment to deliver the latest generation of Wi-Fi connectivity at the stadium for the Red Devils fans who visit the Theatre of Dreams each season.

Earlier in 2023, Extreme completed the roll-out of a new Wi-Fi 6 network at Old Trafford, deployed in partnership with Verizon Business. The ultra-fast connectivity supports the club’s digital offerings, including mobile ticketing and membership rewards, and is designed to provide the club with the best possible platform to explore new immersive services to improve the matchday experience for fans.

Looking at the deployment in locations such as Old Trafford, Extreme said that with functions from EMS services to retail stores, a stadium on gameday is like a small smart city, and the network supports every digital service.

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For the 2023/24 EPL season, the club will use the ExtremeCloud IQ platform to gain visibility into network performance and management across the venue as well as ExtremeAnalytics solutions to better understand fan behaviour and drive more personalised and informed decisions around both the fan experience and overall venue operations.

The new Wi-Fi 6 network supports modern experiences for fans, including updated digital signage throughout the historical stadium and mobile ticket scanning at the stadium entrances. Fans can reliably access social media apps and stay in contact with friends and family during matches, as well as access the Manchester United mobile app to navigate the stadium or get match updates when they’re away from their seats.

Another advantage is said to be continuously improved services and operations with the wireless analytics software providing the Old Trafford’s operations team with real-time insights into fan activity and network performance, which they can use to continuously improve digital fan experiences throughout the stadium.

This includes application usage insights, which can help identify areas and moments of increased usage to ensure better provision of services. Extreme said that it is the only networking vendor to provide Wi-Fi insights and analytics.

Manchester United’s IT team is also deploying ExtremeCloud IQ to monitor and optimise network performance, giving it a view into the entire stadium network through a single dashboard. The cloud-managed network also enables the IT team to scale operations based on event needs and automatically adjust traffic streams based on network traffic, helping ensure a high-quality experience for fans and staff connected to the network.

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“We’re delighted to be supported by Extreme Networks to deliver world-class connectivity to our fans within the Theatre of Dreams. Old Trafford is steeped in history; however, it is vital we keep innovating with the best possible modern digital solutions which allow us to improve the overall matchday fan experience,” said Manchester United chief digital information officer Attiq Qureshi.

“The next generation of connectivity at Old Trafford will provide the club with a great platform for future digital innovation, as well as help the club better understand the wants and needs of our huge fanbase.”

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