5G to improve the sports viewing experience first, says Ovum

5G to improve the sports viewing experience first, says Ovum
Research commissioned by Amdocs suggests that network operators will offer AR and VR to fans

Elly Yates-Roberts |

New research conducted by independent analyst and consultancy firm Ovum on behalf of software provider Amdocs suggests that 5G will hit the sports field first, with network operators offering fans augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to improve the viewing experience in the home and at events. 

Nearly two-thirds of the world’s largest network operators plan to provide this technology, promising speeds up to tens of times faster than 4G. Leveraging 5G audiences would be given new viewing opportunities, for example, watching instant replays or finding player statistics with AR and VR technology.

Audiences may not be waiting long for these opportunities: 26% of operators intend to introduce 5G the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and 28% are targeting the Euro 2020 football tournament. Overall, 91% of network operators are aiming to trial the mobile network in sports and esports by 2021.

“5G is not just a new wireless technology from a network equipment provider, it’s a fundamental transformation of mobile networks, infrastructure and business models,” said Ed Barton, chief analyst of Consumer and Entertainment at Ovum. “It will drive the creation of new applications and services, which in turn will require new operating and business models, force changes across operator technology setups and emphasising the need to integrate the new with the old. Our discussions with the world’s leading operators prove that it’s already a challenging journey. The industry has two years or less to get it right if it is to hit the ground running.”

Microsoft also has a role to play in the new network plans. 

“At Microsoft we have a significant part to play in this shift – we are helping carriers to achieve the scale they need to deploy networks rapidly and with a lower capital expenditure than in the past,” said Rick Lievano, worldwide director of Industry Technology Strategy for Telecommunications at Microsoft in a recent interview for The Record

For consumers to use 5G they must have devices that support it. As such, 43% of operators are willing to subsidise 5G-enabled smartphones, a third 5G-enabled tablets and a quarter were prepared to subsidise augmented and mixed-reality headsets.

“It’s essential for operators to find successful use cases for 5G given the investment levels,” said Gary Miles, chief marketing officer at Amdocs. “Amdocs’ research has revealed that major live sports events could hold the key to consumer adoption of 5G. Operators have identified these events as the springboard for rollout of a whole range of new interactive and immersive services. This will give consumers their first real taste of what 5G can deliver and allow operators to showcase the capabilities of their next-generation networks.”

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