This year’s Vodacom Durban July will see Vodacom partnering with Nokia to showcase the future of Virtual Reality (VR) through two different 5G powered experiences at Africa’s greatest horseracing event.
The first VR experience will showcase the high speed and low latency capabilities of 5G and will use 4K video cameras to record and stream live, immersive footage from two different positions at the Greyville racecourse where the annual Vodacom Durban July horserace will take place on Saturday, 7 July. Each of these cameras will broadcast a live, 360 degree feed over 5G back to the Vodacom hospitality suite, where guests can experience the feeds from the racecourse through VR headsets, and be virtually transported into the live scenes from the day’s races.
The first camera has been positioned in the Parade Ring, which will enable guests at the Vodacom hospitality suite to have a live, virtual view of the horses as they are paraded before each race. The second camera has been positioned at the finish line, and will enable guests to watch the action packed finish of each race in VR, as if they were at the finish line themselves. The images from the cameras will be streamed in real time over a Nokia Airscale 5G base station, and uses 100 MHz of Vodacom’s own spectrum in the 28 GHz frequency band.
A second 5G-enabled related VR experience will also be demonstrated in the form of a VR penalty shootout, where high speeds and super-low latency are both critical to the reality of the experience. The VR penalty shootout experience will enable participants to ‘feel’ the difference between the different latencies which are typical of 4G and 5G networks, by introducing different reaction times. This VR experience will allow participants to feel as if they are physically within a stadium facing the best goalkeepers in the world, which is fitting considering the soccer fever currently gripping the globe.
Andries Delport, Chief Technology Officer at Vodacom says: “Our future will be characterised by a range of new technologies that are fusing our physical and digital worlds. Robotics and super-realistic virtual & augmented reality are characteristic of this era. These new technologies require the high speed and low latency that only a 5G network can deliver.”
In keeping with the theme of the digital age, this year’s Vodacom Durban July will showcase the future of mobile networks. Mobile networks such as 5G and beyond will become the basis of how people, vehicles and homes will communicate. This is why Vodacom has embarked on ensuring its mobile network is ready and available to support this technology, when we are allocated the necessary spectrum by government.”
Vodacom’s 5G VR showcases at the Vodacom Durban July illustrate the opportunities and use cases which could be made available through a 5G network. Two of the major advances which 5G networks will bring over existing 4G technology is higher speeds and reduced latency or responsiveness. Latency is the time gap that exists between a request and a response in a system, which is typically around 20ms on a 4G network. On a 5G network, this is reduced to less than 5ms, which means that the request-response between connections is almost real-time. This could enable 5G applications being extended to mission critical control of remote applications (e.g. industrial automation in factories, remote robotic surgery etc.) as well as smart vehicles and transportation systems, which require ultra-reliable and low latency communications.
In addition to the 5G showcases, Vodacom has a total of twelve base stations at the Greyville Racecourse, with a combination of ten permanent and two temporary base stations to cope with the crowds on the day, which are expected to exceed 50 000 visitors. These base stations have also been enabled with the latest 4G+ technologies to increase network capacity and speed. To guarantee optimal network user experience, all the base stations which are serving King Shaka International airport, all road routes to Greyville and the broader eThekwini area have been upgraded and optimised for maximum performance.