Vodafone today conducted the UK’s first 5G holographic call, connecting England Women’s (“Lionesses”) football captain Steph Houghton and Vodafone’s Head of Enterprise for a real-time 3D conversation between Manchester and Newbury.
Houghton, also gave footballing tips to 11-year-old Manchester City and Lionesses fan, Iris, in Newbury, via a Microsoft Hololens VR headset.
The holographic call came after Vodafone announced in June that seven cities will become Vodafone 5G trial areas from October. The company today added that Cornwall and the Lake District will receive 5G during 2019.
Vodafone explained: “Steph is filmed in Manchester via a Sony camera, and the audio is captured by Sennheiser radio mics and go-in to a Yamaha LS9 [sound board]. We then take the signals to Cisco Codecs, which are connected to the 3.4GHz 5G CPE which in turn is connected to the 5GNR Massive Mimo. This 5GNR hardware is mirrored in Newbury to receive the Video and audio transmission.
“This is picked up by other Cisco Codecs in Newbury, and the audio signals are routed to another Yamaha LS9 in Newbury, which goes to a D&B Audiotechnik PA System. The video is routed from the Codecs to a Barco E2 system, where the image is sized and then routed to Panasonic 20K projectors. The same image is routed into Anne’s Hololens.”
5G Trials Proliferate – but What About Commercial Roll-Out?
As Computer Business Review reported earlier this year, the commercial case for widespread 5G roll-out remains unclear; the infrastructure is intensely capex-intensive and consumer appetite for increased bills not strong.
Operators see three main use cases/routes to monetisation: 1) enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB); 2) ultra-reliable low latency IoT and 3) fixed wireless access.
eMBB could include holographic calls like the one demonstrated today, TV & Media (video quality 4k, 8k) augmented reality, virtual reality, immersive gaming and video surveillance. Yet as research house Northstream reported over the summer: “Average revenue per user and operators’ revenues have stagnated or even declined in many developed markets… The 5G use cases discussed in the industry will likely bring no (or very small) increase in mobile service revenues for operators in the period 2018-2022.”
“Operators in key markets are facing a competitive environment with stagnating or even declining mobile revenues. Without a clear revenue upside we believe that operators will aim to keep CAPEX flat and therefore 5G rollout will be gradual, starting in 2020 and lasting over seven to ten years”.
Vodafone’s Head of Enterprise, Anne Sheehan, who made the call today, earlier this year told Computer Business Review in an interview that “5Gis really critical for applications like self-driving cars, remote surgery, gaming and VR/AR that require an instantaneous response. It will also increase bandwidth, catering for a myriad of devices and emerging technologies at once, even where demand is high.”
“We will have 1,000 5G sites by 2020,” the company said today.