This year we will see telecommunications and content delivery changed fundamentally with 5G networks rolled out worldwide. Verizon Media’s NZ sales director, Arnaud Calonne tells consumers and advertisers what to look out for.
The he last decade has seen seismic developments in telecommunications and the pace of change is only accelerating. Just think, it was only six years back in 2013 that New Zealand ushered in the 4G era. At the time, Vodafone told consumers that the 4G network was “a major milestone for New Zealand”. Well, if you thought that was groundbreaking, 2019 promises to be a barrel of monkeys by comparison, as 5G networks roll out all over the world.
We’ll soon see data downloaded at rates that make our current 4G networks seem positively sloth-like. And it wasn’t long ago that 4G did the same thing to the now-virtually prehistoric 3G networks. Here’s a practical example of what I’m talking about. Imagine you want to download a new release like Avengers: Endgame. At 3G speeds it would have taken nearly 24 hours, or the time it takes to fly from Auckland to London. The advent of 4G networks reduced this download time to barely five minutes. But with 5G networks up and running, you’ll be able to download the film in about the time it takes to reach out and flick a lightswitch. This vastly increased download speed has many obvious benefits and with Verizon Media being an arm of one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, we’ve been devoting a lot of attention to this new wave of 5G technology.
Unquestionably, its widespread arrival this year is set to be a game changer for the way we experience content. For consumers, it will lead to a whole new experience, with waiting times for downloads disappearing and 4K streaming becoming the norm with zero latency. In short, the days of stop-start, grainy live streams will soon be behind us.
This means that video, already exploding in popularity, will become even more commonplace across our devices. In particular, mobile usage will continue to rise and fast. Mobile surpassed desktop for global usage back in 2016, and the gulf between them will only widen further with each passing year. Consumers on the go, equipped with ultra-fast data access in their pockets, will increasingly be able to watch live-streamed events as though they were at home in front of their TV.
Sports coverage viewed on mobile will see a huge uptake, which has already been jumped upon by telcos such as Spark who recently obtained exclusive rights to live stream the Rugby World Cup via mobile across their network. Early adopters are getting in early and positioning their content offering in preparation for 5G capabilities. Verizon Media has done the same, particularly in the US where we’ve been proactive with the opportunities presented by 5G. Through a long-standing Yahoo Sports partnership with the NFL, last year Verizon provided live streams of NFL games through the Yahoo Sports app for free, as well as near-live highlights of NBA games.
It’s a big win for sports fans, as they get to choose where, when and how they consume content, and it challenges all the major players in the market to deliver better experiences. I’d expect to see similar approaches to content dissemination in these parts soon. Faster data also promises meaningful advances across the Internet of Things. 5G networks and those that follow will power driverless cars, as well as making existing products even more functional. Soon your smartwatch, smartphone and even smart fridge will be a whole lot more intuitive and, well, smart. For brands and advertisers 5G also promises a new dawn. The widespread roll out of networks offers an opportunity to serve up premium video content without existing concerns over the viewing experience (those slow load times and patchy latency).
A more fluid overall experience will enable the serving of higherresolution inventory, in addition to allowing personalised messaging in real time.
Picture an AR device that allows the superimposing of new furniture products into your living room so you can see how they look in your home - and you’re looking at the future of retail browsing.
Marketers will have a better chance than ever to make meaningful connections with their audience. The advent of 5G also looks like great news for developers and early adopters of AR and VR technology. Picture an AR device that allows the superimposing of new furniture products into your living room so you can see how they look in your home - and you’re looking at the future of retail browsing.
The continued evolution of VR and AR technologies will also give creative teams the opportunity to really flex their muscles and create genuinely memorable brand experiences. I’m personally excited to see where this trend leads and you can expect to see plenty of experimentation in the next few years. It’s already been taking place at Ryot’s new state-of-the-art 5G studio based out of Los Angeles. Ryot, Verizon Media’s branded content division, is taking the early mover advantage of prototyping the next generation of content creation, experimenting with video and pushing the boundaries of story-telling beyond the confines of latency.
Of course, this leap forward in telecommunications is not without its associated challenges. The vast quantities of data that 5G networks create will call for careful shepherding by regulatory authorities. Marketers too will have to guard against personalisation that is so spot on as to be unnerving. The increased speed at which consumers can access data and content also means they are becoming less tolerant of inefficiencies. Pages that take even a few seconds to load run the risk of being ignored, as impatient browsers click elsewhere.
Governments, meanwhile, are already stepping in to legislate who they consider a fit and proper 5G partner, with New Zealand joining the US and Australia in rebuffing Chinese-based Huawei in its ambition to set up offshore operations.
As for what 5G means locally, well, for a start 2019 is unlikely to be seismic and a widespread roll out is more likely on these shores in 2020. Currently, the US is the proving ground for the technology with major networks launching in large cities presently. Verizon for instance, launched 5G into Chicago and Minneapolis in early April. By the end of this year, it will have launched into 30 US cities including Boston, Dallas, San Diego and Washington, DC.
New Zealand will have to wait a little longer. As with all new technology, there is a bedding in period while best practice is established. In the meantime, Verizon Media is localising learnings from our 5G Ryot studio and trialling new concepts for brands and advertisers in New Zealand to get ahead of the game.
A wider variety of 5G enabled smartphones will also have hit the market by next year too, and it’s telling that Apple - who have a habit of getting these decisions right - are delaying bringing a 5G device to market until the dust has settled in 2020. All told, the arrival of 5G in the near future heralds a new era in how we all engage with content. Regardless of when it’s due to come, we’re getting ready for the unimaginable doors it will open and you should be too. Faster data speed and greater connectivity will soon be the expectation and - whether you’re a consumer, creator or advertiser - there’s a whole lot to be excited about.