WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
5G will help organisations deliver a whole variety of new customer experiences, like these…
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One of the questions I often get asked is what’s so special about 5G? 5G is what I call a general purpose technology, in other words it’s in the same bucket as Artificial Intelligence (AI), a technology whose impact crosses every sector and impacts almost every type of use case, and a technology that’s transforming the world. As an example of this just think about what you can do today with 4G that you couldn’t do with 3G or 2G – the difference is titanic and that extra speed, going from a few Mbps to 50Mbps, has helped spawn trillions of dollars worth of new value and opportunity for companies. And the speed increase from 4G to 5G is even more of a step up, going from 50Mbps to up to 1.5Gbps, and frankly, from a customer perspective faster networks means more possibilities, more content, and richer awesome experiences.
Last week Verizon, as part of its installation at the Super Bowl Live complex at Bayfront in Miami, Florida, gave fans a demonstration of their new fan experience and as you can see from the video it was cool.
“You don’t just show up in the fourth quarter of 2019 ahead of the Super Bowl,” said Nicki Palmer, Verizon’s Chief Product Development Officer. “I think our network team has watch parties when they announce the Super Bowl locations a number of years out because they know if it’s coming to their neck of the woods, they’ve got to start planning.”
Verizon installed a command center in Miami almost two years ago with the aim of blanketing key parts of the city and Hard Rock Stadium in 5G. Several hotels, key tourist areas, the stadium, and the stadium parking lot all have solid, lightning-fast 5G connectivity up and running now. It’s a project that required miles of fiber-optic cable and cost about $80 million. But why?
For one, it’s great marketing. As a partner with the NFL, Verizon is poised to leverage the publicity of the Super Bowl to its advantage. But beyond that, it sought to bring unique experiences to NFL fans who descended on the city. And at the stadium specifically, fans are getting something never seen before. Something they are hungry for.
As an example, imagine holding your phone up in the stadium like you’re going to take a picture, but instead, augmented reality greets you with instant information you can immediately use. Find the closest restrooms and see their wait times. Find the food you want to eat and see how long it will take to get it, locate your car in the parking lot and get directions to it from your seat. And that’s just the start.
Want to buy some merchandise? The app will point you toward your favourite team’s jersey. Want stats on a player? Point your phone at them and it pops up. You can see the quarterback’s playbook as they position themselves to hike the ball. And if you want to see a replay, not only can you control the playback, you can do it from any angle in 3D space.
Speaking of multi-angle playback 5G allows you to see the game from any number of angles. Just pick the camera view you want to see in real-time, and you can zoom in tight to exactly what you want to see – for now, this experience is limited to the Super Bowl, but it is only a matter of time until it comes home.
These experiences simply haven’t been possible until now. That’s because they rely on the insane speed and instantaneous reaction time that only 5G can make possible. But there’s more, of course. Facial recognition can be accomplished in real-time thanks to distributed computing, and that same edge computing promises mobile gaming that competes with the best console and PC gaming available, all because ultra-fast 5G data allows all the heavy lifting to be taken on by supercomputers located in some building miles away.
Ultimately, 5G speed promises a bevy of new experiences that could transform the way we live. The question in the short term though is whether or not Verizon can deploy its short range, ultra high speed millimetre wave 5G solution broadly enough so that everyone can take advantage of it. This limitation is one of the reasons why T-Mobile, for example, is backing multiple 5G horses by leveraging low, mid, and millimetre wave spectrum that will help them speed up the roll out of their national 5G network, a big chunk of which went live last December.
And that’s the challenge, for Verizon at least. Verizon’s version of 5G is insanely fast, but it is very short range. The reason Verizon’s Miami project cost upwards of $80 million is that it had to deploy a ridiculously high density of 5G nodes in order to ensure coverage over such large areas. All that said though as the era of 5G draws nearer and nearer the only thing that’s guaranteed is that the experiences will be off the hook.