Verizon teams with NFL, AWS to showcase 5G edge

Verizon NFL game
The experience allowed users to simultaneously see the live virtual football tosses of other fans.(Verizon)

Gaming is often cited as one of the first areas that will reap the benefits of 5G’s low latency and super-fast speeds, and that’s what Verizon showcased during the Super Bowl LV last month.

Verizon announced today that it teamed with the NFL and Amazon Web Services (AWS) on NFL Ultra Toss, a 5G and mobile edge compute (MEC)-enabled mobile game for fans in the stadium.

Attendees with the NFL Ticketholder app received a push notification during the second quarter enabling them to compete in a virtual football toss game. The game involved using their smartphones to virtually toss a football into the back of a simulated pickup truck positioned in the middle of the field.

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Of course, Verizon has a deal with the NFL to equip stadiums with its Ultra Wideband millimeter wave-based 5G, and this game at Raymond James Stadium took advantage of that. Fans who were connected to 5G Ultra Wideband in the stands could point their phone’s camera to the middle of the field to see the virtual pickup on the field using augmented reality (AR). Fans could also see, in real time, the live virtual football tosses of other people in the stands thanks to the interactive AR experience.

The mobile multi-player experience was enhanced thanks to Verizon’s deal with AWS; the gameplay was offloaded to the edge of Verizon’s network. “5G Edge moves the data and processing done by applications and services closer to the end user at the edge of the network. This shortens the roundtrip that data needs to travel, reducing lag time, or latency, and helps applications respond more quickly and efficiently,” the carrier explained.

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“Gaming is all about community and so is the Super Bowl and together with AWS we were able to bring these two communities together to offer a first of its kind 5G and MEC-enabled gaming experience to fans at scale,” said Nicki Palmer, chief product officer at Verizon, in a statement. “The super-fast speeds, massive bandwidth and low latency provided by 5G and MEC lets players have a console-quality multi-player gaming experience on the go and allows developers to rewrite the rules for creating eye-popping, graphics-rich multiplayer action. The future of gaming is happening right now.”

Verizon historically has been using the Super Bowl to showcase its latest and greatest technology. But why the lag time in announcing this gaming experience? Not surprisingly, it took a while to get the NFL and AWS to sign off on the details, so that explains the March 1 release date, according to a spokesperson.