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Verizon and Korea Telecom demoed the first ever hologram call using their 5G networks. (Image credit Korea Telecom)

 

Earlier this month, Verizon and Korea Telecom tested the first international hologram-based video call over their respective 5G networks. The call was demoed during a meeting between Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and KT CEO Hwang Chang-kyu who discussed expanding their partnership to advance the 5th generation infrastructure.

 

Both companies have been gobbling up spectrum licenses in the 30 and 40GHz range to better implement the 5G standard regarding throughput, which makes sense if you consider that hologram video calling requires massive bandwidth, which 3G, 4G, and LTE cannot provide. Of course, you’re also going to need an infrastructure that is capable of delivering that spectrum, and as a result, Verizon just dropped $1-billion in pocket change for fiber-optic cable from Corning. They plan on unspooling that cable in Boston and several other US cities over the next few years (2018-2020) as 5G takes hold.

 

As far as the numbers game goes, Verizon and KT aren’t the only communications companies spending big on the millimeter-wave spectrum as AT&T recently bought-out Straight Path Communications for $1.6-billion and grabbed FiberTower for an undisclosed amount. Both had extensive licenses in the 28 and 39GHz spectrum. Another major holder of spectrum licenses is Dish Network, who shelled-out $6.2-billion for titles in the 600MHz spectrum during the FCC’s Broadcast Incentive Auction held last week.

 

With all that money being dropped on spectrum licenses, we should be able to do much more than just making holo-calls, but it was an important first step in that it showed two separate 5G infrastructures could play well together and the connection only took 10-minutes to complete rather than days. As far as the tech used in the demonstration, it’s vague at best but my guess is they employed millimeter-wave devices (perhaps the Snapdragon X50 5G modem?) as KT have been developing hologram live calling over the past several years.

 

KT also says that the technology can work on today’s mobile devices without issue and doesn’t require any specialized displays to function. So no, we won’t be getting Star Wars-like hologram calling anytime soon, but the demonstration was still impressive, and KT expects to implement trial services of their 5G network in 2018 for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and then as commercial service in 2019.

 

What’s interesting about Verizon’s and KT’s endeavors, is that there is currently no standard for 5G, just an outline of the what the technology should entail from the NGMNA (Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance), however they do state 5G should roll out for the commercial and business markets by 2020.

 

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