[THE INVESTOR] PYEONGCHANG – Approximately 180 kilometers east of Seoul, PyeongChang, in Gangwon Province, is preparing itself to become a base camp for the country’s upcoming fifth-generation wireless network system.
Despite the mountainous region’s disorderly altitudes ranging from 800 meters to over 1,000 meters, the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics is expected to be the first area to experience the 5G network before its commercialization in 2019.
KT Vice President Oh Seong-mok demonstrates a virtual reality experience of an Olympic torch relay during a press conference in PyeongChang on March 14. KT
As an official Olympics sponsor, Korea’s mobile carrier KT is working with world-class network builders -- Ericsson, Nokia, Intel and Samsung -- at a 5G Center set up in the vicinity of the world’s longest (2,018 meters) Alpensia Sliding Center, to test-run data transmission at a maximum speed using the 28 Gigahertz frequency band. Winter games such as skeleton, bobsleigh and luge will take place at the center.
With that speed and 5G coverage secured by the installation of 26 network stations, a 200-gram Sync Cam, developed by KT, attached onto the nose of a bobsled will allow viewers to feel as if they are riding in a sled at 150 kilometers per hour and enjoy the game from a first-person point of view.
The camera footage will be delivered to the 5G Center and then broadcast live to the world via KT’s 5G-based Sync View technology.
“Our goal with the 5G technologies is to bring the Olympics to viewers in a more lively way as if they are inside the track,” said Oh Seong-mok, vice president of the network business division of KT at a press conference. “The success of the PyeongChang Olympics will help KT secure leadership in the 5G market.”
KT is set to conduct a final test on the 5G network for the sliding center at the end of this year and to win approval for use of the Sync Cam from the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation next month.
Within the PyeongChang Alpensia Resort, which will be one of main venues for the Olympics, KT plans to run a handful of experimental zones for visitors to learn how 5G can bring a sports event live to their mobile devices and televisions at home.
To experience being the last carrier of the sacred torch for the Olympic Games, one can put on a virtual reality headset media device, hold a torch-motif stick, wear a pair of gloves and shoes and walk towards the caldron in a booth.
The mobile carrier’s latest VR Walkthrough service tracks a user’s motions and location with a number of sensors attached onto pairs of goggles, gloves and shoes, providing the experience of being a torchbearer for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Forty cameras are currently installed at the ice rink stadium in PyeongChang for the Interactive Time Slice service, which will deliver thousands of footage to the Olympic broadcasting system. The broadcaster gets more choices of footage to edit, providing TV viewers with sophisticated and elaborate details of athletes’ motions during their performances.
Those who download a smartphone application will be able to control footage of performances and games with their fingers by touching a smartphone screen. The app will be launched by KT before the Olympics kicks off.
The 360-degree VR Live allows viewers to look around the Olympic venues from all angles that they want, not only from a broadcaster’s angle.
“KT plans to prepare a set of 5G technologies and services to be named PyeongChang Standards by February 2018, which could be commonly used by other mobile carriers and for other similar events,” Oh said.
KT also plans to operate self-driving shuttle buses and drones within the Olympic venues based on the 5G network system. Connected with the 5G Center, the shuttle buses will travel up to 60 kilometers per hour to carry visitors from one venue to another.
By Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald (email@example.com)