[PyeongChang 2018] Ultra-fast 5G network to transform Olympics viewing experience

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Feb 4, 2018 - 14:25
  • Updated : Feb 4, 2018 - 22:05
Russia’s 15-year-old figure skating sensation Alina Zagitova performs a fast triple lutz-triple loop combination on the ice. The moment passes by so quickly, and it’s hard to see what’s going on from your seat in the back of the stadium.

Propping on your 5G-enabled virtual reality headsets, you get a 360-degree view of the entire rink. On a smartphone, you slide your finger across the screen to view a particular jump to see how it was exactly performed in the split of a second.

On a 5G-connected tablet, you can join the US men’s bobsled team in action by following their view of the tracks in real-time as they skid down the track at speeds of more than 150 kilometers per hour.

Visitors check out 360-degree live virtual reality videos on 5G-connected headsets inside an ice rink. (KT)

These are some of the interactive 5G-based services that will be showcased to the public for the first time at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, which is also striving to bring the world its first ever “5G Olympics.”

With just a week left until the start of the Olympics, South Korean mobile carrier KT has completed fully deploying its ultra-fast 5G trial network infrastructure in and out of stadiums across PyeongChang and its surrounding regions.

And together with its partners Intel and Samsung Electronics, it will be offering the public a chance to experience a number of data-heavy video streaming services hosted by the 5G trial network during the international sporting event.

Short for fifth-generation, 5G network systems are designed to be at least 10 times as fast as the current 4G Long Term Evolution networks, promising download speeds of up to 20 gigabytes per second and a response time of less than 0.0001 seconds.

Able to transmit large amounts of data with ultralow latency, 5G is set to form the backbone of futuristic technologies like virtual reality and the Internet of Things, while opening up access to on-demand ultra high-definition videos anytime, anywhere.

KT has set up a 5G experience space at the Olympic Park in Gangneung and selected stadiums in the PyeongChang region where guests can check out various 5G-hosted video services on the world’s first 5G-enabled tablets built by Samsung.

A visitor follows a cross-country skiing tournament through omniview on a 5G-connected tablet. (KT)

The telecom company has installed a similar space within its headquarters in Gwanghwamun of Seoul for those who can’t physically make it down to PyeongChang during the games.

Visitors to these locations can check out four types of data-heavy video streaming services hosted by KT’s 5G trial network, including sync view, interactive time slice, 360-degree VR live and omni point view.

Sync View, to be used for the bobsleigh events, is a technology that transmits live, real-time footage from the athletes’ point of view as they race down the tracks. It only works because large amounts of data-heavy videos can be transmitted without latency through 5G networks.

Interactive time slice, applied in the ice arena sports including figure skating and speed skating, is a 5G-dependent video streaming technology that lets viewers control the time, target and angle of the footage they are viewing live.

This means that viewers who are watching a figure skating routine, can halt the screen at any time to see a particular jump moment in different angles and points in time. And they can return to watching the live footage when they want.

The 360-degree VR live feature, to be used for the ice hockey and snowboarding tournaments, will let viewers watch the game in virtual reality by strapping on a 5G-connected VR headset.

Ten cameras have been installed around the ice rink to capture the game from all angles, and will be used to form the 360-degree footages, according to KT.

Powered by Intel’s technologies, the 360-degree VR recordings will be saved and offered for future consumption so that people can relive the Olympics via VR headsets even after the games end.

Meanwhile, omni point view is a live broadcast service that hosts multiple live-feed videos at once. It will be applied to the cross country skiing event in which multiple players ski across long distances.

Viewers will be able to choose the broadcast angle they want to view from, including personalized views of each GPS-equipped athlete on the move. The 5G networks is fast enough to ensure there is no latency despite the large-scale data transmission.

KT’s 5G trial network will offer digital communications at 28 gigahertz, which offers more bandwidth than traditionally cellular channels that stand at below 6GHz.

The next-generation network is expected to be commercially deployed across the world by around late 2019, after the 3GPP — the organization that develops global cellular standards — finalizes its technical specifications for 5G.

By Sohn Ji-young (