KDDI and Samsung Electronics today announced the successful completion of a 5G field trial held in Okinawa Cellular Stadium, a 30,000-person capacity baseball stadium in Japan. Using Samsung’s 5G end-to-end solutions spanning virtualised core, virtualised RAN, a 5G access unit and multiple prototype 5G tablet devices, the trial showcased a live feed of Ultra HD video content downloaded and streamed simultaneously on 5G tablets supporting the millimetre wave spectrum. This is the first time 5G performance has been tested using 5G tablets in Japan.
Samsung’s 5G access units with beam-forming technology were installed on a light tower to create 5G coverage in the direction of the home plate and first and third bases. As a result, tablets placed on the seats in the coverage area were able to download and stream UHD video via 5G. The successful trial results reflect the two companies’ efforts in using 5G technology and the ultra-high frequency spectrum—the 28GHz band in this instance—to redefine user experiences in crowded environments and spotlight a new approach to viewing sports games.
The outcome of this trial exploits the advanced connectivity which will have advantages not only at sports events but also in a wide variety of crowded entertainment spots, including live music concerts, exhibitions and international conferences, by demonstrating how users will be able to simultaneously access 5G networks and enjoy immersive experiences regardless of their location.
It seems clear that 5G is very desirable for the user and to drive an upgrade cycle for devices, but deployment is another issue. In limited locations, like sports stadiums and concerts, I can see the clear benefit in the infrastructure investment, but it will take some time to become ubiquitous, I think. Millimetre wave radio is very short range and, more or less, dependent on ‘line of sight’. As the IEEE points out ‘these frequencies tend to be absorbed by plants and rain’, so an English summer may well cause some problems! Interestingly, the tests were done with no people in the stadium, but the crowd would block some of the radio transmission. (BR)