TranSPORT 2018: 5G Promises New Tools, Workflows, Applications in Live Sports Contribution

Panel of reps from AT&T, Verizon, Ericsson, LiveU examine the potential

“We’re at that moment now where we have a unique window to collaborate across partners and industries to start creating a fourth industrial revolution.”

Spoken by Christian Guirnalda, director, 5G ecosystems and innovation, Verizon, those sentiments indicate the importance of what’s just over the horizon with the arrival of 5G, not only in sports and media production but across society.

Worldwide commercial 5G is likely still more than a year away, but, as is the case with many technologies, live sports productions are already beginning to trial and experiment with the technology and discover its tremendous potential.

The 5G Revolution panel at TranSPORT: (from left) AT&T’s Phillip Coleman, Verizon’s Christian Guirnalda, Ericsson’s Peter Linder, and LiveU’s Dan Pisarski

During a panel conversation at SVG’s TranSPORT event this month, some smart minds blazing the 5G trail shared what they expect 5G to mean for the future of sports media. The most logical starting point is the furthering of efficiencies in at-home production.

“It’s clear that more and more data needs to come from where you are playing the game back to a centralized position,” said Guirnalda, who helps run Verizon’s 5G labs (located in New York City; Waltham, MA; Los Angeles; and Palo Alto, CA), where the company is partnering with university researchers, startups, enterprise R&D shops, and others to build the future of 5G. “At-home production drove that with getting synchronized, great-looking video back, but, as at-home production matures, it’s ‘can we get all of the data we need back?’ Every piece of telemetry, all of the intercoms, all of the teleprompters, all of the graphics back and forth to the location. So not just the bandwidth needs but the total capacity and latency needs go up and up as we envision more information flowing back and forth. 5G is an enabler for that.”

Dan Pisarski, VP, engineering, LiveU, a developer of bonded-cellular backhaul technology, is looking for areas where 5G can begin to have short-term impacts on the media business while the society-wide deployments get sorted out. That, he feels, can come in the form of getting 5G-enabled tools into the hands of content creators.

“I think there’s a number of different tools that you can give those end-content capturers while they are in the field that they didn’t have before,” he said. “That content can still be distributed to people who live in a 4G world. So think of that as a way to unlock some 5G capability to a massive scale today.”

Peter Linder, head of 5G marketing, North America, Ericsson, sees some trends that could potentially disrupt onsite sports production in a very notable way, including eliminating the need for large-scale fiber.

“Not necessarily all of the fiber but combining a fiber-rich diet with a breath of fresh air,” he explained. “We’re also looking at other things that cost quite a bit, like getting [production vehicles] onsite. Perhaps we can eliminate a few of those by sending streams directly back to the production center. I also believe there’s a lot of potential to run more than one camera per cameraman. We can have remote operation of the cameras. Those are quite exciting to explore.”

AT&T, which partnered with Fox Sports on a forward-thinking 5G trial at this year’s U.S. Open golf tournament, stresses how complex but exciting 5G already is. AT&T has made it a company point to keep much of its 5G-based efforts open-source, knowing that its future is going to need to be shaped by the industry at large.

“5G is very software-centric,” noted Phillip Coleman, lead product manager, AT&T, adding, “It’s also very decentralized. In terms of edge computing, previously, it would help you connect into the cloud. Now start taking some of that compute and storage and actually sit it within the network. You can move it as close as the use case dictates. It can be on premises.”

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