T-Mobile And PGA Of America Show a Practical Side To 5G – Forbes

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Turning a popular expression around a bit, sometimes you need to focus on the individual trees and not the entire forest.

When it comes to 5G, for example, most of the attention has been on big picture, meta-level changes that the technology was expected to make. Indeed, 5G has made some important impacts on the market and even society overall, with significantly faster and more reliable download speeds for mobile devices, a popular new broadband connectivity option with FWA (Fixed Wireless Access), and more.

As a result, though, it became easy to overlook some simpler, but more practical benefits that the technology can enable. A great example of this is the work that T-Mobile’s 5G Advanced Network Solutions division—part of T-Mobile for Business—is doing on the PGA of America Championship golf event in Louisville, KY.

Working in conjunction with the PGA of America, CBS Sports and Sony, T-Mobile is leveraging 5G private network technology and network slicing to enable a number of event-specific outdoor applications designed to enhance the overall experience both for TV viewers and in-person attendees, as well as the organizations putting the event on and broadcasting it.

Specifically, T-Mo is putting up a portable private 5G network that can be used for wireless 4K TV cameras and enhanced mobile device coverage. The company is also setting up a network slice on its macro network for point-of-sale devices.

In conjunction with Sony’s PDT-FP1 portable data transmitters and low-latency encoders/decoders, the T-Mobile private network will enable Sony’s FX6 4K cameras to support point-to-point 5G connections with latencies averaging under 100 milliseconds. This will give CBS Sports’ TV production team significantly more flexibility in the types of shots that they can use by allowing wireless cameras to wander around portions of the course as needed. Previously, this was only possible with 1080p HD cameras and not higher resolution 4K cameras.

In addition to handheld cameras, they are planning to use camera-equipped, 5G-enabled drones to provide even more perspectives on the Valhalla’s course’s famous 13th hole.

Another huge benefit of leveraging 5G for the camera connections is that it can dramatically reduce the amount of set up, cable wiring and other practical logistics issues that TV productions typically face for these kinds of events. That reduces costs, makes it easier for the fans to walk around the course, and lessens the potential of course damage caused by production equipment.

On the event side, the PGA of America typically sets up sales related concession stands throughout the course to allow participants to purchase food, drinks, souvenirs, etc. To ensure reliable operation of the point-of-sale devices needed to run those stands, T-Mobile is creating a dedicated network slice within the larger network that’s specifically assigned to these POS terminals. In addition, the remaining portion of the network addition that T-Mobile is setting up at the course can be used by attendees to get high-quality service on their mobile devices.

In fact, T-Mobile and the PGA of America are planning to leverage that network by creating new kinds of content, such as behind-the-scenes looks at the driving range where mainstream broadcast coverage isn’t typically available and make that available through the PGA of America smartphone app and other digital channels. Those productions will also be leveraging 5G-based ball tracking technology, which will provide additional details on things like ball flight, speed, curve, apex, distance, and more.

All told, it’s a pretty comprehensive example of how 5G technology can be leveraged in some unheralded but very practical ways. Individually, none of the applications are particularly revolutionary and none would fit into the kind of mega-level trends that many first expected for 5G. Collectively, however, they offer a different and more pragmatic perspective on how 5G can have a positive impact in simple, but still very important ways.

Disclosure: TECHnalysis Research is a tech industry market research and consulting firm and, like all companies in that field, works with many technology vendors as clients, some of whom may be listed in this article.

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