The football match of the year for Europe takes place tomorrow. I’ll be watching along with millions of other fans, but with my 5G hat on.
So, what have sports got to do with 5G? When you consider the 5G “launch” timeline, major sporting events in 2018 and 2020 are highlighted as major milestones. This is quite remarkable since these events are unique by nature, limited by time and location. These event specific 5G deployments are very different from countrywide deployments to millions of users, but they are crucial as they’ll demonstrate to the world what 5G can really do.
Events will be global showrooms for 5G
Nokia’s partner KT already presented a clear roadmap of 5G applications for the upcoming games in PyeongChang, including services like 360-degree virtual reality, time-sliced video and a fully automated bus service. For Nokia, it’s the perfect opportunity to plan the world’s first 5G mobile network underpinning all these advanced services and to overcome the specific challenges of 5G deployment. Events are the perfect preparation for large-scale deployments and a touchstone to harden the technology since it needs to work perfectly on the spot.
Events also prepare the market. In the past, they’ve often been a catalyst for many trends in media, entertainment and communications, like new breath-taking camera angles from the athlete’s perspective and the large-scale upload of personal content to social media in order to share special moments. The next mobile generation has the potential to completely change the way we experience events, both at the venues and remotely from homes. The resulting know-how in technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will accelerate the development of new applications in other areas as well.
Spectators will see more through 5G
The high throughput, low latency of 5G is well-suited to deliver services that provide alternative live views of sporting action, and doing so simultaneously to thousands of spectators. Consider these three cases:
- First, spectators can select from a choice of high-definition cameras to see what’s happening from any angle they want, click to see instant replays or enhance their experience with insights provided through augmented reality.
- Using real-time virtual reality for example, to experience being track-side at a critical moment in a race or in the middle of a pit-stop is a powerful attraction. Visitors can “beam” themselves into locations without having direct line of sight.
- Thirdly, remote viewers at home will experience the event via VR glasses, transporting them virtually to the heart of the action. 5G to the home (fixed wireless access) will deliver this new, high-value content.
5G enables visitors to get close to the sporting or entertainment action without needing a high-priced VIP ticket. From a venue owner’s perspective it provides up-sell opportunities. From the sports fan perspective, they have just landed the best seat in the stadium.
5G will deliver the necessary scale
The high density of users and extreme throughput and latency demands of these applications cannot realistically be met by Wi-Fi or LTE. Nokia has determined that 5G can provide up to 40 times more capacity in a stadium than 4.5G, and that the costs of providing the video services is up to 20 times lower. With LTE, too few users could be reached which incurs much higher costs. In contrast, 5G can deliver high-definition video simultaneously to a large number of subscribers within the stadium. Only 5G would enable these services to be provided at price points that will be accepted by sports fans.
Powering events by 5G will be profitable…
5G will not only enhance major global games but also any other mass spectator events that occur on a regular basis such as football matches, race-track events, concerts in stadiums or large halls and ample festival areas. The break-even for the 5G investments in stadiums can be achieved after 1 to 2 years, depending on the number of events held at a venue per month.
Alongside the massive traffic that flows to and from end users, emergency teams and safety surveillance services will also rely on the same 5G network. These critical services will be virtually separated from the rest and put into distinct network slices to guarantee their operations under any circumstance.
It’s clear that upcoming games and future football matches will not only bring sports competition but will also accelerate the competition for the most successful 5G use cases far beyond sports. By demonstrating the possibilities unlocked by 5G to a wider audience, the general public will get that much closer to the action around 5G.
And the immediate winner? …the sports fans, of course!
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5G World 2017 London Hope to see you at 5G World 2017 in London at booth 5G010 June 13-15.
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