Odeon Cinema and Telia Test 5G-Connected Movie Theater

Odeon Cinema Center in Oslo and Norwegian mobile firm Telia teamed to operate the first 5G-connected movie theater, presenting films streamed over the next-gen network. The plan was announced in December, with the introduction of a 5G “test network.” The two companies are still in test mode with the launch of the 5G-enabled Odeon, to demonstrate how 5G will replace 4G and at least some wired broadband services. The Odeon is in fact using 5G to transfer the films to its own server, and said the system “works excellently.”

VentureBeat reports that, “the distinction is critically important as it demonstrates that responsive, high-bandwidth 5G wireless could be a viable alternative to local storage, even in commercial settings where buffering or audiovisual degradation would be problems for hundreds of viewers at once.”

In theaters, movies typically are projected at 4K or greater resolution, a problem since existing 4G LTE networks “may struggle to maintain fluid 720p video streams.” In tests, Telia’s 5G network achieved 2.2 Gbps speeds, “between five and 20 times the bandwidth of typical consumer 4G networks, and faster than the theater’s wired Internet lines.”

Those speeds allow the Odeon to “address its own downloading needs, as well as offering guest Wi-Fi access inside the building.” With regard to distribution, the tests show that the days of deliver instantaneous programming is not far off. With the network’s 7 to 8 millisecond latency — “around one-fifth of 4G’s latency” — attendees could also “participate in real time with live concerts or other events broadcast from remote locations.”

VB notes that 5G “will likely first become known for its consumer impacts, including high-speed broadband service,” from providers such as Verizon and AT&T, which already proffer “up to 1Gbps home and up to 1.5Gbps mobile 5G solutions, respectively.” Current 5G modems have reached peak speeds “in the 5Gbps range.” But, ultimately, 5G bandwidth will power streamed — not locally processed — content, powering “holographic, VR, and AR devices.”