How will the Olympics shape 5G?
With the recent finish of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, there is huge interest in how the 2018 Winter Olympics and 2020 Summer Games will be the launchpad for the latest generation of mobile technology – 5G. A new whitepaper from InterDigital and Mobile World Live cuts through the hype to address:
- why the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea is highly unlikely to support true 5G
- the challenges facing operators – and device vendors – in hitting these ambitious deadlines
- the visionary new services 5G technology could enable at the Games
- the companies leading the way to a 5G future
- why there is such urgency behind these Olympic efforts
Download the free report to learn this and more!
How will the Olympics
01 | WHITEPAPER
How will the Olympics shape 5G?
The race is on to demonstrate some form of
5G at the 2018 and 2020 Olympics
ow fast will 5G come out of the blocks? At both the 2018
Winter Olympics in South Korea and the 2020 Summer
Olympics in Japan, mobile operators are planning to use
5G to provide innovative new services to spectators, viewers
and the organisers. The next generation of mobile technologies
could transform the experience of watching live events, but will
it be ready to be thrust into the global spotlight as early as
February 2018 at the PyeongChang games?
How will the Olympics shape 5G? | 02
Given the timetable set out by standards body
3GPP, the answer is almost certainly ?no?. 3GPP
isn?t planning to produce the first incarnation of
Release 15 (the first 5G specification) until June
2018. That means any ?5G technologies? on show
in PyeongChang will need to be pre-standard.
Still, South Korea?s mobile industry is confident
that the work it is doing developing 5G for the
Olympics won?t be made redundant by the
standardisation process. And it does seem that
the determination in East Asia to showcase 5G at
the 2018 and 2020 Olympics is accelerating the
global development of the technology.
Byeong-Moo Lee, VP of Olympic Business at
mobile operator KT, an official sponsor of the
PyeongChang Olympics, says his company plans
to install a network based on ?common? 5G
specifications using the 28GHz frequency band,
developed in collaboration with equipment and
device vendors for the ?PyeongChang 5G Trial
Service?. He says 5G will be deployed in the main
Olympics venues, Olympic facilities, cities where
people are staying and routes that visitors will
take. KT anticipates that the 5G technology used
in the PyeongChang Olympic Games will be
compatible with the first phase of the 5G
standard, which will be finalised by 3GPP in 2018,
in terms of key technical features and
The availability of compatible devices will help
determine the nature of the 5G services that KT
will showcase at the Games in PyeongChang and
those who will be able to access them. ?We don?t
yet know whether we will have sufficient devices,?
acknowledges Byeong-Moo Lee. ?We are working
with all the major vendors to get as many as we
can. Our priority is smartphones, but we do have
some tablets and wearables in mind too.?
Wireless industry expert Michael Thelander,
President of Signals Research Group, doesn?t
expect to see 5G devices in the hands of
spectators at the PyeongChang games, partly
because the battery life will be very limited. ?They
will be able to showcase the use of higher
frequencies, using a handheld device plugged
into a long extension chord, loosely based on the
5G standard,? he predicts.
SK Telecom, another mobile operator in South
Korea, is also looking to deploy 5G technologies
by 2018. It has opened an integrated 5G
innovation centre at its corporate R&D centre on
the outskirts of Seoul. ?Our target by the end of
2016 is to interconnect the key enabling
technologies - mmWave 5G radio & device, LTE,
5G, and WiGig interworking, virtualized RAN,
network slicing, distributed core network -
together to form an end-to-end 5G pilot system
in an outdoor environment,? says Park Jin-hyo,
SVP and Head of the Network R&D Technology
Center at SKT. ?SK Telecom is targeting to
perform an end-to-end 5G pilot system testing by
end of 2016 with a FPGA-based/PC-sized 5G
device. By the end of 2017, a chipset-
based/tablet-sized 5G device will be available.?
Before the end of next year, SK Telecom is
planning a ?large scale pre-commercial 5G
deployment? to enable it to make a detailed
assessment of the overall 5G system. ?The device
is expected to be a lot smaller and more user-
friendly and the coverage will be wide enough to
support most 5G services being discussed today,?
adds Park Jin-hyo.
?We don?t yet know whether we will have sufficient
devices. We are working with all the major vendors to
get as many as we can. Our priority is smartphones, but
we do have some tablets and wearables in mind too.?
Byeong-Moo Lee, VP - Olympic Business, KT
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5G development timelines for selected operators (Source: GSMA Intelligence)
Although the timing of the Winter Olympics means Korea?s mobile industry is working to a very
aggressive 5G timetable, its R&D efforts are at least partially integrated with those taking place elsewhere
in the world. In fact, some of the Korean work on 5G is part financed by the European Union, through a
collaboration with the Korean government on 5G technologies. The University of Oulu?s research unit -
The Centre for Wireless Communications - in Finland has been charged with developing the required 5G
radio solutions and integrating them into a functioning mobile network, in time for the Winter Olympics.
Other partners include operators, vendors and research institutes from Germany, France, Belgium and
Korea. Ericsson is supporting KT?s efforts to develop 5G.
ITU timeline Requirements
Workshop Proposals Specifications
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
How will the Olympics shape 5G? | 04
The generational shift
It is a big step from 4G to 5G, partly because of
the use of new spectrum and partly because the
latter involves the deployment of an entirely new
radio interface, says Christopher Cave, Director,
R&D, InterDigital. ?Imagine you have gone from a
two lane highway to a six to eight lane highway,?
he says, referring to the potential increase in
capacity and bandwidth. ?4G could in theory get
to 1Gb/s, but you would still have latency
problems with LTE. There is a lot of talk around
the Olympics, which puts a lot of pressure on
operators and vendors to get things ready.?
The new 5G air interface, known as New Radio
(NR) technology, is still under development. In
May 2016, China-based equipment vendor
Huawei announced it had completed the first
phase of testing of several component
technologies for this new air interface. Huawei
found filtered Orthogonal Frequency Division
Multiplexing (F-OFDM) can provide 100 per cent
higher system throughput compared with LTE,
while Sparse Code Multiple Access (SCMA) will
support ?massive connections and obtain higher
system throughput simultaneously.? The test
results showed SCMA can increase the uplink
connection number by 300 per cent and at the
same time increase the downlink system
throughput up to 80 per cent, Huawei added.
At the Mobile World Congress Shanghai at the
end of June 2016, leading chip vendor Qualcomm
demonstrated prototype 5G systems running in
sub 6GHz spectrum and in 28GHz spectrum. In a
blog post, Matt Branda, Director of technical
marketing, wrote: ?The prototype system is ?a
trial platform that will track 3GPP standardisation
progress closely to enable timely 5G NR trials
with leading mobile network operators,
infrastructure vendors, and other industry players.
This will also help drive timely commercial
network launches in 2019 and 2020.? Qualcomm
says the prototype 28GHz system, which employs
advanced antenna techniques (smart
beamforming and tracking) to address non-line-
of-sight scenarios and improve range, is already
being utilised in field testing today.
Taking place more than two years after the
PyeongChang Games, the 2020 Summer
Olympics in Japan will almost certainly showcase
5G systems compatible with the 3GPP standards.
?We will develop a commercial system based on
Release 15,? says Seizo Onoe, CTO of NTT Docomo
in Japan. ?I can?t say whether it will be large scale
or limited coverage [?] we will have devices
available, but the challenge is to have sufficient
volumes. We are preparing in collaboration with
the vendors.? As well as enabling its customers to
buy 5G devices, Docomo plans to offer
international visitors to the Tokyo Olympics the
opportunity to rent a 5G handset.
Michael Thelander of Signals Research Group
anticipates only a small proportion of the
Japanese population will have true 5G handsets
by the time of the Tokyo Olympics. ?We will be
right at the very early stages,? he says. ?There
may be something commercial out there, but
Apple is not going to have a 5G handset by
2020?they tend to be laggards when it comes to
implementing tech standards.?
In the final quarter of 2015, Docomo carried out a
variety of 5G trials with five equipment vendors.
For example, Docomo and Ericsson verified the
feasibility of massive multiple-input multiple-
output (MIMO) technology by achieving a real-
time data-receiving speed of more than 10Gb/s
using the vendor?s 5G radio prototypes with a
15GHz frequency band. In a separate trial
conducted with Samsung in Suwon-city, South
Korea, on 12 November, Docomo and Ericsson
attained a maximum data-receiving speed of
more than 2.5Gb/s in a vehicle travelling at a
speed of 60km/h. The trial used a 28GHz high-
frequency signal in combination with
beamforming, which focuses radio waves in a
specific direction, with a high number of antenna
elements and beam tracking.
In October, Docomo and Nokia Networks
achieved a data rate of more than 2Gb/s using
high-frequency spectrum in a trial in the
Roppongi Hills high-rise complex in Tokyo using
millimeter-wavelength signals in the 70GHz band.
The trial used beamforming and beam tracking to
control beam direction according to the mobile
device?s location. At the 5G World event in
London in June 2016, Nokia claimed the ?first
ever? demonstration of a 5G network running on
What services will 5G enable for the
Once it becomes commercially available, 5G,
supported by advanced 4G and cellular
broadcast technologies, could transform the
experience of watching live sports. For example,
a very fast, low latency mobile connection could
enable a spectator to watch an event from
different vantage points, switching at will
between a camera mounted on a player?s helmet
to a birds-eye view to a conventional side-on
viewpoint. 5G may even allow operators to
transmit enough data to enable consumers to
watch 3D holograms or 360-degree renditions of
the sports action. Equipped with a virtual reality
headset, a viewer could simply move their head
around to watch different aspects of the event.
At the 5G World event in London, Young Sik Kim,
KT?s head of network technology, envisioned
deploying a 5G-linked drone equipped with a
video camera at the PyeongChang Games. During
a technical trial last September, images were sent
back from the top of a ski jump tower, and on the
subsequent route down to ground level.
?We have a variety of services in mind, such as
holograms and 360 degree virtual reality,? adds
Byeong-Moo Lee of KT. ?We are planning to show
new viewpoints only 5G can provide [?] We have
lots of possibilities open for us now.? Faster
networks will also mean sharper pictures. ?We plan
to deliver super rich content, such as 4K video, 8K
video and virtual reality experiences,? adds Seizo
Onoe, CTO of NTT Docomo in Japan. ?We want to
showcase the very low latency of 5G.?
Assuming 5G delivers a dramatic increase in cell
capacity, it could also enable spectators to
choose which athlete they want to follow in
events that are spread over a wide area, such as
road cycling and sailing. ?You could put a
connected HD webcam on every bike or on every
boat,? notes Dan Warren, Director of group
architecture at Capita and former Director of
technology for the GSMA.
Moreover, augmented reality applications could
enable spectators in the venue to point their
smartphone at an athlete and see a short bio and
statistics superimposed on the display.
Depending on the terms of the broadcasting
rights, spectators may also be able to use their
smartphones to live stream short clips of an event
to their friends in another location. ?Both 4G and
5G can be used to enable live streaming, but this
is really an end-to-end question,? says Jawad
Manssour, Head of 5G RAN for Ericsson in South
Korea. ?How much content sharing will be
allowed? How much ICT will the Olympic
Committee want to use and could that impact the
outcome of the event??
05 | WHITEPAPER
?They will be able to
showcase the use of higher
frequencies, using a handheld
device plugged into a long
extension chord, loosely
based on the 5G standard.?
Michael Thelander, President, Signals
Smarter and smoother venues
New mobile technologies also promise to make it
easier for the Games venues to accommodate
large numbers of people and ensure they are
comfortable. Christopher Cave of InterDigital
notes how Internet of Things solutions could help
to make it easier for spectators to access the
stadium, find seats, and pay for food and drink.
For example, each seat in a venue could have a
connected sensor in it, enabling it to signal when
it is occupied or available. ?You could manage the
stadium as a smart building,? adds Dan Warren of
Capita. ?There is already a fully automated
building in Amsterdam, which knows who you are
from your phone, how many people are in the
building and how much energy to use and how
many printer cartridges to order.?
Mobile service providers could also use
connected sensors throughout the host cities to
give visitors to the games personalised real-time
information about the best transport options to
reach a specific venue in time for a specific event.
Not just 5G ? the supporting cast
As well as showcasing new 5G technologies, the
upcoming Olympics is also likely to be supported
by commercial 4G services providing downlink
speeds of about 1Gb/s, enabled by the ongoing
advances in LTE technology, says Jawad
Manssour of Ericsson. ?There are lots of use cases
that we will be able to run on a stable and
commercial network,? he notes. ?A lot can be
done on a LTE network with carrier aggregation
and 4X4 MIMO and we recently announced
Ericsson 5G Plug-Ins that support advanced
MIMO and latency reduction technologies.?
LTE may even be able to deliver live VR ? a very
demanding application ? with the help of
appropriate compression and link technologies.
However, Manssour acknowledges that 5G could
offer a significantly better combination of latency
and reliability, when ?intelligent connectivity? is
enabled between 5G and LTE.
Both the 4G and 5G networks used at the
Olympics could be enhanced and supported by
other new technologies, such as Network
Function Virtualisation (NFV) and Software
Defined Networking (SDN), which help mobile
operators to allocate network resources more
efficiently and effectively. Dan Warren at Capita
notes that Wi-Fi, which continues to improve, and
evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service
(eMBMS), which enables the same content to be
sent to a large number of subscribers at the same
time, could also be used to enhance the Olympics
experience. At the same time, local caching and
edge computing could help to ensure the popular
content is delivered quickly to spectators.
How will the Olympics shape 5G? | 06
?4G could in theory get to
1Gb/s, but you would still have
latency problems with LTE.
There is a lot of talk around
the Olympics, which puts a lot
of pressure on operators and
vendors to get things ready.?
Christopher Cave, Director - R&D, InterDigital
Why the urgency?
As a television audience of more than 3.5 billion
people typically watch each edition of the
Olympics, the Games provide a golden marketing
opportunity for individual companies and the
host countries. But the 2018 Games will be the
first time a new mobile technology has enjoyed
this kind of coming out party. ?It is surprising how
important the Olympics have been in driving the
timeline for 5G,? says Christopher Cave of
InterDigital. ?I can?t remember any other
technologies being showcased on this stage in
this way. The games are a great tool to
demonstrate the technology to a smaller number
of users, such as journalists and bloggers, who
will benefit from lots of capacity with a limited
number of 5G users.?
In particular, the 2018 Winter Olympics in
Pyeongchang, the 2020 Summer Olympics in
Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
will throw a spotlight on East Asia?s impressive
high-tech capabilities. South Korea, Japan and
China are driving the development of mobile 5G,
in a similar way that Europe pioneered 3G and
North America led 4G, says Calum Dewar, Director
of forecasting at GSMA Intelligence. East Asia?s
leadership in mobile 5G reflects the appetite of
the region?s consumers for high-speed
connectivity. ?South Korea has the highest rate of
LTE adoption of any country with almost three-
quarters of connections using the technology as
of March, and we expect this to move past 90 per
cent by 2020,? he notes. ?This level of 4G maturity
means that operators in the country see the early
launch of 5G as necessary for future revenue
growth [...] As with 4G, given the country?s
relatively small geography, the rate of 5G adoption
will likely be faster than anywhere else.?
?Presenting 5G service for the first time in the
world throughout PyeongChang 2018 will be a
triggering point for Korea to lead the 5G industry,
which aligns with KT?s goal,? says Byeong-Moo
Lee of KT. ?As the Olympics is a world event,
being the official telecom partner will be our
starting point for 5G.?
Docomo, which is aiming to maintain
technological leadership over its rivals, intends to
use the Tokyo Olympics as a springboard for a
broader deployment of 5G across Japan. ?5G will
not be just a hotspot system,? says Seizo Onoe.
?The network service capabilities will be enhanced
further. I have asked my team to create a wide
coverage system, even with high frequency bands.
In time, 5G will be expanded into the rural areas
and into developing countries.?
07 | WHITEPAPER
Byeong-Moo Lee, VP - Olympic Business, KT
?We have a variety of services in mind, such as holograms and
360 degree virtual reality. We are planning to show new
viewpoints only 5G can provide.?
Calum Dewar, Director of forecasting, GSMA Intelligence
?South Korea?s level of 4G maturity means that operators in the
country see the early launch of 5G as necessary for future revenue
growth [...] As with 4G, given the country?s relatively small geography,
the rate of 5G adoption will likely be faster than anywhere else.?
Christopher Cave, Director - R&D, InterDigital
?It is surprising how important the Olympics have been in driving
the timeline for 5G. I can?t remember any other technologies
being showcased on this stage in this way.?
Dan Warren, Director of group architecture, Capita
?You could put a connected HD webcam on every bike or on every boat.?
Jawad Manssour, Head of 5G RAN, Ericsson South Korea
?How much content sharing will be allowed? How much ICT will
the Olympic Committee want to use and could that impact the
outcome of the event??
Michael Thelander, President, Signals Research Group
?[Devices] will be right at the very early stages. There may be
something commercial out there, but Apple is not going to have a
5G handset by 2020?they tend to be laggards when it comes to
implementing tech standards.?
Park Jin-hyo, SVP & Head of Network R&D Technology Center, SKT
?SK Telecom is targeting to perform an end-to-end 5G pilot system
testing by end of 2016 with a FPGA-based/PC-sized 5G device. By the
end of 2017, a chipset-based/tablet-sized 5G device will be available.?
Seizo Onoe, CTO, NTT Docomo
?We will develop a commercial system based on Release 15. I can?t
say whether it will be large scale or limited coverage [?] we will have
devices available, but the challenge is to have sufficient volumes.?
How will the Olympics shape 5G? | 08
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