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Verizon CEO outlines power of 5G technology in CES keynote speech

Updated January 12, 2021 - 11:20 am

Verizon’s top executive told a virtual CES audience Monday about the real-life applications of 5G communications networks in the kickoff keynote address of the trade show that normally draws more than 170,000 people to Southern Nevada.

Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, used a CES staple — a musical performance by a popular group — to demonstrate 5G’s capabilities on the first day of the four-day consumer electronics showcase that normally fills convention centers and hotels every January.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s show is being presented in an online format.

Vestberg introduced singer-songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist-producer Adrian Quesada of the Texas-based Black Pumas soul band to perform with ultrawideband enhancements that enabled viewers to experience the music onstage with multiple camera angles.

The performance was the finale to the hour-long keynote in which Vestberg, formerly Verizon’s chief technology officer, gave examples of how 5G is going to be a game-changer for users of mobile devices.

Vestberg also offered presentations by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Professional Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lonnie Bunch, UPS CEO Carol Tome and several Verizon leaders to show how 5G will enhance the communications experience.

“Instead of being our future, it’s our present,” Vestberg said of 5G.

This year, seven presentations on the evolving technology are scheduled for CES.

“5G is just in the second inning of a nine-inning baseball game,” said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, a wireless industry trade association. “There are many, many benefits we expect from 5G and even Next G networks over the coming years.”

Those benefits include enhanced visual presentations of sporting events, virtual tours and the use of augmented reality in museums, the expanded use of drone package delivery, better traffic flow in cities and better entertainment experiences in concerts.

“When the music (live performances) comes back, we will be able to make it better than ever,” Vestberg said. He added that Verizon is partnering with Live Nation to add 5G technology to 15 performance venues across the country.

A more robust entertainment experience will be something visitors to Las Vegas will enjoy and the city already has 5G networks available around the city. Two major carriers — T-Mobile and AT&T — launched 5G coverage in Las Vegas in early December 2019. Verizon launched its 5G Ultra Wideband service in parts of Las Vegas in October.

5G technology is 10 times faster than the fourth-generation version and users experience the speedier transmission of data, lower latency within congested areas and greater data security.

Through a partnership with the National Football League, Verizon is providing seven different camera angles in games and the presentation of player statistics for viewers, upgrading the game experience for fans.

Vestberg said 5G would not only enhance the sports-watching experience, but also provide a new era in immersive learning for students. The Smithsonian’s Bunch said people can enjoy a virtual experience at the institution with a three-dimensional rendition of the Apollo 11 space capsule.

The Smithsonian wasn’t the only museum getting Verizon’s attention. The Met Unframed, a program established in a 5G partnership between Verizon and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, features more than a dozen digitally rendered galleries and nearly 50 works of art from the museum’s collection.

Fast communication with the use of sensors in cities will enable more efficient traffic control and Verizon technologists are anticipating better traffic flow would result in vehicles being carbon neutral by 2035.

UPS’ Tome said her company is working with Verizon’s Skyward team to deliver packages more efficiently with drones dispatched from specially equipped UPS vans that can move to optimal launch locations.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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