David Vye is the technical marketing director for AWR Group, NI. A former editor and business development manager for Microwave Journal, he has held technical and marketing positions at ANSYS, Ansoft Corporation, Raytheon, and M/A-COM. He is a 1984 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at … More »
5G Makes Its Public Debut at the Winter Games
January 22nd, 2018 by David Vye
NI and our customers spend considerable time and effort deep in the development of technology that will enable next-generation communications. We have been working on 5G technology for several years now—long before the general public will experience its amazing capabilities. However, it is worth noting that we and a global audience will be treated to a first look at 5G in February with the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
In addition to the athletic competition, this event will provide one of the first large-scale demonstrations of next-generation wireless media access thanks to 5G. Collaborators Intel and Korea Telecom (KT), with support from global equipment makers and chipmakers such as Samsung, LG, Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE, Qualcomm, Huawei, and others, will showcase select services to enhance the viewing experience with special networks set up in Gangneung Olympic Park, Gwanghwamoon, Seoul, and at other Olympic venues across Korea.
In its 5G service trials for the Winter Olympics, KT has been targeting a number of innovative telecommunication experiences such as interactive time-slicing (synthesized) images for purpose-built smartphones and tablets. The key 5G-based integrated services will provide ultra-real view services (first demonstrated in February 2016), with features that include:
These features will provide the world with a first glimpse into the capabilities enabled by 5G breakthroughs. Interactive view-slicing viewing will allow users to zoom in on skaters in the indoor arena and rotate the image similar to visual effects encountered in movies such as The Matrix. To enable this feature, servers will pull images from a hundred cameras lining the arena, reconstituting them in real time to create a customizable view for each subscriber. The ability to spin a skater through 360 degrees in high definition requires that the system be able to deliver 400 megabytes per second, according to HongBeom Jeon, executive vice president at Korea Telecom1.
On the ski courses, the omni point system will let viewers track the progress of competitors with skiers wearing a GPS receiver to pass their location live to the KT servers. The GPS information will be synchronized with images pulled from cameras around the course and the servers will then synthesize the view seen by the competitors in real-time. KT has fitted the cameras with wireless transceivers to connect them in real time, pushing the low latency requirements called for in the 5G specification.
Other events will also provide an immersive user experience with a live view such as that of the bobsled course as any given team races through the turns, thanks to wireless cameras located in the bobsled cockpit. “Given that bobsleds travel at very fast speeds of up to 153 kilometers per hour, it is often difficult to connect them to a wireless network. However, KT has developed a new network frame suitable for fast speed environments,” remarked a company official.
In addition, 5G technology will support drones equipped with video cameras. During a technical trial last September, images were sent from the top of a ski jump tower, and on the subsequent route, down to ground level, providing an alternative method to capture the athlete’s point of view and beyond. 5G and drones are also teaming up for autonomous drone delivery services.
Other 5G-enabled experiences include the mixed-reality (MR) Olympic torch relay and VR walkthrough. With mobile communications, the Olympic flame lit in Greece will travel to Pyeongchang via mobile phone as a virtual image, then on to a real torch, and then back to another torchbearer in the virtual space.
In an earlier limited test, KT engineers deployed three base stations in the center of Seoul that communicated with buses fitted with 28 GHz transceivers for autonomous driving. Of the three sites, two non-mobile cell sites supported 4-sector and 2-sector, respectively, while the third mobile site was equipped with a 5G base station and antenna that supported 2-sector. The bus was equipped with 5G devices by Samsung and Ericsson. The 5G base station and devices used an operating frequency band of 28 GHz capable of supporting maximum data rates of up to 20 Gbps per cell and 3.2 Gbps per device.
Following the success of this test, KT has installed the equipment at Daegwallyeong Tunnels, which consists of six tunnels along Expressway 50, in order to provide services for drivers starting in February 2018. Visitors to the games can use the telecom operator’s self-driving 5G bus to move between skiing events around the resort. The bus will have screens inside to display the multimedia demonstrations, some using 3D display technologies.
One advantage operators have in deploying 5G early is the potential to use mmWave spectrum to support the infrastructure needed to deploy smaller, lower frequency base stations into dense urban areas more economically. The self-backhaul approach feeds data received on sub-6 GHz bands onto broadband mmWave links between base stations. This overcomes the problem that early mmWave systems are likely to have in dealing with mobile users and eliminates the costly need to lay down fiber networks for backhaul support of a network containing a high number of base stations.
We will be discussing more about this topic and related features in the next NI AWR Design Environment product release and in future technical articles, white papers, workshops, and webinars throughout 2018. In the meantime, learn more about 5G communications design through our recent articles on 5G power amplifier design, 5G filter design, mmWave phased-array automobile radar, and simulation of system metrics for 5G—all available in the NI AWR software resource library.