Fox tees up 5G technology to deliver 4K HDR coverage at US Open golf

Fox Sports and the Fox Innovation Lab will blaze the 5G trail next month at the 118th US Open Championship, partnering with Ericsson, Intel, and AT&T to stream 4K HDR video over 5G from Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

The 5G wireless technology will transmit 4K HDR video from two Fox Sports cameras positioned on the par-3 seventh hole at Shinnecock Hills through the Fox Sports production truck, making it available to viewers through DirecTV.

The trial will be the first available broadcast footage enabled using 5G technology from a premier US golf event. 5G wireless technology, which enables multi-gigabit speeds with ultra-low latency, could also possibly be used to deliver real-time virtual-reality views from the course to viewers. The first sports-centric coming-out party for 5G technology took place in February when Intel and partners deployed it on a broad scale for the first time at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

“It’s part of our Fox Sports DNA to aggressively explore evolving technologies as part of our live sports production,” said Michael Davies, SVP, field and technical operations, Fox Sports. “This is exactly the kind of effort we consistently put into the leading edge of today’s technology, in preparation for what will become the industry standards of the future.”

According to an announcement by Fox Sports, the trial will allow the broadcaster to take advantage of a true 5G live test environment for 4K image and streaming US Open video to multiple platforms. This will showcase a use case for reducing live production costs while enabling UHD broadcasting to scale.

Ericsson is providing the 5G radios, baseband, simulated network core, and 4K video encoder and decoder.

“As we prepare for the launch of 5G networks, it is essential for us to test real-world business cases, such as for wireless streaming of 4K video at sporting events,” says Niklas Heuveldop, head of market area, North America, Ericsson. “In collaboration with our partners, Ericsson is proud to demonstrate this type of innovative entertainment solution, utilizing both our networks and media technologies. This is just one eye-opening example of the increased relevance high-performance wireless networks will have for delivering a superior consumer experience.”

Intel is providing the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform, a compact device capable of transmitting 1.6 Gbps, that allows fast field and interoperability testing of 5G networks and equipment. It will be at the seventh hole to deliver the 5G-to-IP translation.

“Building from our innovation at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, where we had 22 live 5G links, supporting 3,800 TB of network capacity, we are again enabling 5G in a real-world environment at another exciting sporting event. Intel — along with partners AT&T, Ericsson, and Fox Sports — is showcasing live 5G connectivity at the US Open,” says Asha Keddy, VP/GM, next generation and standards, Intel.

“Our learnings from this collaboration will fuel a stronger 5G user experience in live sports while the industry drives towards development of 5G devices and network buildouts, creating new business opportunities that will result from the rich-media experience delivered by 5G.”

AT&T will use millimeter-wave spectrum to deliver the 5G connection. The company also plans to be the first U.S. carrier to launch standards-based, mobile 5G services to customers in a dozen cities, including parts of Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco, TX, later this year.

“5G ultimately promises to transform the video experience and enabling this live 4K broadcast is a great early example,” says Melissa Arnoldi, president, AT&T Technology & Operations. “The high speed and low latency delivered by this trial allow the cameras to move without being restricted by cables and create a unique filming environment. We believe live sports will be transformed by 5G — whether it’s virtual and augmented realities for those watching from afar or how connected sensors could help analyse golf swings, wind conditions, even the speed of greens for the golfer in future U.S. Opens.”

The Fox Innovation Lab is supporting the Intel and Ericsson 5G Innovators Initiative (5GI2) in its mission to drive the future of next-generation entertainment.

“The Fox Innovation Lab was started four years ago for exactly this type of initiative: to test emerging technologies and bring them to life in real-world applications by working across 21st Century Fox and in partnership with leading technology companies,” says Danny Kaye, EVP/managing director, Fox Innovation Lab. “We are excited about the potential of 5G to transform the way we capture and deliver premium content to audiences.”

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