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BT, Nokia 5G VR research

The use of 5G to support future Virtual Reality services will be explored by BT and Nokia, as part of a new stream of research. This research will examine how the low latencies and high bandwidths of 5G can be used to maximise the experience of customers watching fully-immersive live sport or entertainment in future high-definition VR.

As part of this work, the two companies are showcasing how 5G-type technologies can be used to transmit high-quality VR footage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Visitors will be able to use VR headsets to watch a replay of the UEFA cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and CSK Moscow, broadcast by BT Sport from Wembley in early December.

The footage was filmed using the Nokia OZO, the world’s first professional-grade virtual reality camera. The eight lenses on the camera provide a 360-degree sphere for video and 360 x 360 surround sound. It allows viewers wearing VR headsets to experience being seated in a ‘virtual VIP box’ within the stadium itself, giving them the best view in the house, and allowing them an unmatched viewpoint to watch everything from the best goals and tightest of corners to the referee’s decisions.

BT Sport has provided the content for the showcase at Mobile World Congress and this will be transmitted to the Home Experience area over a radio link based on Nokia 5G technologies together with Intel’s 5G modem solution. This incorporates components of Nokia’s 5G FIRST solution which includes Nokia Air Scale Massive MIMO adaptive antennas and Cloud-RAN implementations based around Nokia AirFrame.

Howard Watson, CEO of BT Technology, Service & Operations, described 5G and VR as technologies with “enormous” potential. “This exciting joint research with Nokia is allowing us to explore how they can work together to provide a transformative experience for our customers in the future. Drawing on the high bandwidths and low latencies of 5G will allow us to go beyond the already compelling VR experiences that are possible over 4G, and cater for more interactive future VR content which will place people right at the heart of the action.”

Harold Graham, head of the 5G Business Line in Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: “Nokia is excited to be showcasing at Mobile World Congress the true potential of 5G, both on the network side but also in innovative new use cases. Virtual Reality, in particular, has enormous potential, both for entertainment as well as other applications, so our demo with BT in Barcelona is a compelling way to create both excitement and understanding of that potential.”

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