Exploring how 5G technology will impact the sports industry - Sports Innovation Network and Verizon Interview

As a part of our Immersive Technology Series we are working closely with Verizon in exploring how 5G technology will impact the sports industry.

We were delighted to chat to Toby Redshaw, SVP, 5G Ecosystems, Innovation & Product Development at Verizon to understand the impact of 5G, how it will facilitate the growth of immersive technologies, Esports, and influence how we follow and watch our favorite sports leagues and teams...

(1) How do you predict 5G will revolutionize the media and entertainment industries and why does sport present such a huge opportunity within this space?

We truly believe 5G will be revolutionary. 5G will make many of the immersive and collaborative viewing experiences that we’ve all been discussing for years not only a reality, but more accessible and affordable. Technologies like VR and AR headsets will have smaller form factors and will come down in cost. The content experiences within these viewing experiences will also improve. As an example, the high bandwidth of 5G will allow for more video streams to be sent over the network. This will open up opportunities for sports fans to engage with sports content in new ways, like watching a game from the different perspectives of athletes on the field, or with graphical data overlays on streams. These new types of fan engagement, which we’re already working on with Yahoo Sports, will create many new opportunities across the sports ecosystem. We are working with national leagues, startups, academia and enterprises every day to bring these experiences to life at our 5G Labs.

(2) How does the official approval of standalone specifications by international telecoms standards organization 3GPP change the landscape and enable fast track adoption of 5G?

These standards provide the members of 3GPP and the industry at large with a framework by which 5G technology can continue to progress and develop with consistency. However, this does not mean that all networks will be created equal. As an example, 5G requires a tremendous amount of network density. Verizon has a unique set of fiber and millimeter-wave spectrum assets that will differentiate our 5G network even though there are consistent standards. We call this Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband.

(3) Is the hype around 5G to be believed – will it enable a true platform for cellular IoT and connected immersive experiences? – What role will the technology play in delivering new immersive media applications, like ubiquitous UHD, HDR streams and VR?

The short answer is Yes! We like to say that 5G is not simply 4G +1 because it’s much more than faster speeds and higher bandwidth. It is a revolutionary step not an incremental evolution. 5G takes advantage of completely new network technology that will enable a higher volume of devices to access the network, while also allowing those devices to communicate with each other in improved ways. 5G will co- exist with 4G for some time and leverage the quality of the 4G network with which it integrates. Having the best 4G network will be an advantage as 5G rolls out. There are also unique capabilities like edge computing built into the network that will create new methods of engagement with devices and experiences. The capabilities 5G brings to the table will drive massive positive disruption.

(4) How will 5G interact with smart stadiums and what opportunities emerge for effective second screen experiences?

5G will impact the stadium experience in a number of ways, from improving traffic flow, seating, and concession experiences to improving the ability to stream video in a densely populated place. In addition to the in-stadium fan experience, 5G may also improve things like camera technology, broadcasting techniques and on-field sensors that enhance how a game unfolds for the viewing audience. Overall the advent of 5G with continuing progress in AI, IoT and Cloud including the Intelligent Edge Network will take fan engagement and venue experience to the next level. Behind the scenes we also expect this new layer of intelligence to positively impact operations and cost structures.

(5) Many believe live events are where 5G will hold most influence. How long will it be before coverage of an entire tournament is routed over 5G to be remotely produced?

This will be possible in the very near future. Verizon is looking closely into how 5G will impact eSports, and the ability to provide remote collaborative gameplay with very low latency. It’s very exciting!

(6) Are there cost benefits for 5G technology when compared to traditional broadcast infrastructure, and how will this influence sports coverage?

With every new generation of network technology there are associated cost benefits. 5G will be no different. The cost savings may be associated with improving the operational efficiencies of broadcasters, or with being able to transfer large amounts of data from remote locations more affordably. We’ve already been actively testing some of these hypotheses.

(7) How closely is Verizon following the fast-developing eSports markets and how do you envision 5G revolutionizing this space?

We follow eSports very closely and 5G will be critical to the market’s continued growth. High speed connectivity, massive throughput and low latency are perhaps the most important aspects of any successful gaming experience. 5G will provide all of these things and more. For example, 5G's low latency will make cross-country tournaments a reality. Games will be rendered and streamed from our Intelligent Edge Network, moving the computing function off the mobile device and making way for a more robust mobile gaming experience. And fully immersive AR/VR games with tactile interactions will also become commonplace. 5G will influence all facets of eSports from the infrastructure layer all the way through to the types of games and gaming experiences that are possible. This has positive implications for the entire eSports ecosystem – venues, platforms, leagues, publishers, gamers, advertisers and beyond. As we like to say: “We don’t wait for the future, we build it!”

(8) What is your prediction for how 5G and immersive technologies will change the sports and gaming landscapes by 2020?

Sports fans are starting to watch and consume sports in entirely new ways – we see this through our Yahoo Sports platform and in our partnerships with the NBA and the NFL. There is a growing appetite amongst sports fans for highly personalized experiences and bite sized content. 5G is the enabling technology that will take fan engagement to the next level and will allow content personalization at scale. This means that as a fan you’ll be able to have a personalized viewing experience that allows you to watch a game from any angle, get stats on any player at any time, and create custom highlight reels on-demand. The best way to predict the future is to build it. That is what we are doing with our 5G Labs, partners and customers.

visit - http://www.virtual-reality-sports-innovation.com for more information