KT gets ready to show off 5G for PyeongChang 2018 Olympics

PyeongChang Olympics
KT is working with partners to make the systems, device and services available for the 2018 Olympics in February. (Olympics.org)

There’s less than a year to go before KT will be strutting its 5G stuff for the February 2018 PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea, complete with 360-degree VR views of the action, a 5G autonomous bus and sky-high expectations.

In fact, KT Executive Vice President HongBeom Jeon told attendees at the Brooklyn 5G Summit that KT is working hard with its partners to make the systems and services available by October of this year so they’re ready for the Olympics. The operator is still working with partners on handheld units and Jeon didn’t reveal details.

The mobile operator, an official sponsor of the PyeongChang Olympics, is promising to show off the world’s first-ever 5G pilot service using 28 GHz. It will be a pre-commercial service, but KT has hopes that its homegrown 5G specification will become part of the global standard for 5G.

The event will provide an opportunity for people to experience 5G with Omni Focus (multi-view streaming), Time Slice (multi-view videos) and Sync View (athlete view).

During a media event last December, KT demonstrated “Bobsleigh Sink View” in which bobsleigh races were televised live with a tiny camera attached to the helmets of the athletes going 150 km per hour, Korea’s NewsWorld reported. The 360-degree VR videos will be displayed via tablet PCs and smartphones as if spectators were actually with the athletes before, during and after competitions.

The “Time Slice” service is designed to display 3D still videos captured at diverse angles on athletes, as well as “Hologram Live,” a service designed to make spectators feel closer to athletes, according to News World.

KT has cameras mounted at venues around the Olympic stadiums, including the cross country ski course, where there will be video streaming with cameras staged at various positions around the area. 

As part of its "5G Bus" demo, KT set up a field trial using video streaming transmission in a moving environment that requires handovers in a bus with an autonomous driving feature. The bus is equipped with antennas and links for showing multimedia services inside the bus, and it will be used to shuttle people around the games.

Speaking on Friday, Jeon said there are precisely 295 days left before the start of the games. The games are KT’s way of showing the possibility of what 5G can offer but work is ongoing on use cases for commercial services that KT will start offering in 2019. 

The Olympics traditionally has been the venue for highlighting new technologies, including color TV and satellite broadcasts back in 1964.