Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestberg’s keynote at CES was replete with classy music, glossy visuals and some surprising ‘guests’ from diverse professions. His main theme of course was 5G, but rather than technical details and updates of the technology, the focus was to make the case — to both businesses and consumers — that it promises to be a game changer for the mobile communications sector.
The most interesting part of the presentation was Vestberg’s appraisal of some new, and other on-going, real-world implementations and applications of 5G.
This was an important and refreshing change from his last keynote at CES, two years ago, when he was head of Ericsson, and reflects exactly on where we are with the technology.
The applications and services highlighted ranged from drone delivery, traffic management, entertainment and enhancing the experience of fans watching NFL games or people enjoying the myriad offerings of great museums.
Verizon is either building, collaborating with, or funding some of these, so it was apposite that Vestberg shared the platform with a roster of partners such as UPS, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Live Nation Clubs and Theaters, and representatives of the NFL.
“5G is not just another tech innovation — it is the platform that makes other innovations possible. And we are just getting started,” said Vestberg.
There was also a significant promise as Vestberg announced Verizon plans to install 5G is about 100 schools around the US over the next few years.
In the application covering the entertainment sector, Vestberg shared the platform with Grammy Award nominees Black Pumas to highlight Verizon’s partnership with several Live Nations Clubs and Theaters to deploy 5G Ultra Wideband networks. These would allow the venues to offer novel and exciting ways to experience music and drama both in-vivo and virtually.
The initial venues include The Wiltern in Los Angeles, the Fillmore in Miami, San Francisco’s Masonic Theater and the Irving Plaza in New York. About a dozen other theaters and clubs will be announced soon.
Vestberg pointed out that 5G’s increased speed and capacity provides access to multiple camera angles for fans to enjoy live streams and shows as if they were actually seated in the front rows. The technology would also power new tools being developed to manage crowd flow and more in-venue elements.
Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL and star player and manager Deion Sanders helped Vestberg outline how Verizon will equip 28 NFL stadiums with gear that will allow fans to experience immersive ways to watch and engage with the game.
A demo of Verizon’s 5G Super Stadium app devised in conjunction with the NFL outlined how fans with 5G-enabled devices will be able to engage with select games with up to seven different camera angles, giving them the feeling of being nearer the action.
Under the banner of ‘Building the New Smart City’, Skyward, Verizon’s commercial drone division, partnering with UPS Flight Forward, demonstrated how they are testing 5G’s capabilities for delivering packages via drones.
The the companies had already demonstrated last year the feasibility of such a service on 4G LTE networks, and they suggest the low latency of 5G should make monitoring traffic and freight locations significantly more reliable and efficient. They add that with the increasing use of autonomous aerial and ground vehicles, 5G will be a necessity.
The companies will use The Villages retirement complex in Florida as the test bed, with the delivery of healthcare products being a priority.
Vestberg also announced the launch of The Met Unframed, an immersive virtual art and gaming ‘experience’ that will also be accessible using 4G LTE capable devices. However, Verizon stressed, 5G will add an extra dimension with much improved AR capabilities.
Initially the service — which will be available for no charge for a five-week run — will feature about a dozen digitally rendered galleries and about 50 works of art chosen from The Met’s vast collection.
Initially, only four of the AR works of art will be enhanced with activations accessible to users of 5G enabled devices using Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service.
A statement from Verizon following the keynote includes a message from Max Hollein, director of the museum, noted that The Met’s credo from its founding 150 years ago has been “to connect people to art and ideas, and to one-another — something we have found to be more powerful than ever over these last months of isolation and uncertainty.”
Many of those who look forward to the annual trip to Las Vegas for the CES — including the team from EE Times — can certainly relate to that sentiment.
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