Norway: We've just opened world's first 5G movie theater

Telia Norway thinks 5G is more about applications than raw technology. So one app in its new 5G pilot is a movie theater.

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Both major mobile operators in Norway have now opened their 5G pilot networks. Telenor started its one in the town of Kongsberg, an hour's drive from Oslo, in November, while Teliawent live with two base stations around their Norwegian headquarters in Oslo in mid-December.

Unlike earlier generations of mobile technologies, where networks were rolled out first and then applications and services came along, with 5G, things are happening in the opposite order:

"We're starting the 5G development from a customer perspective, and explore use cases and service scenarios first, and develop the technology from that," said Abraham Foss, CEO of Telia Norway in a statement.

"That way, we can identify customer demands and address business opportunities. We will develop 5G-based solutions industry by industry and area by area."

One rather unexpected application being tested in the pilot is the Odeon movie theater, which is conveniently located within the coverage area of the pilot network. This cinema is the newest and biggest in Oslo, with 14 halls all equipped with the newest sound and image technology.

Odeon is testing 5G for delivery of digital movie files, as well as providing internet access to their guest Wi-Fi zones in the building. This makes Odeon Oslo the world's first 5G-based movie theatre.

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

According to Jon Einar Sivertsen, CCO at Odeon Norway, the project is first and foremost a test.

"Using 5G instead of traditional internet lines is giving us higher capacity than we're used to," he tells ZDNet.

"We have redundancy via normal lines, so we're not dependent on the 5G network now. But it's been shown that 5G is giving us download rates we normally wouldn't get. We transfer the movies to local servers, so playback happens locally, even though we've tested live streaming, which also works excellently."

Telia's 5G pilot is using the 'non-standalone 5G' variant. This means that the signaling traffic for setting up the data channel is carried by 4G in the 1,800MHz band, whereas the data traffic itself is carried over the 3.7GHz band by 5G.

According to Telia, it has achieved a performance of 2.2Gbit/s and response times of between seven and eight milliseconds with this setup.

Those figures are way better than 4G, where response times of 40 milliseconds or more are expected. In this trial network, Telia is testing equipment from Nokia, Ericsson, and Huawei.

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