CES: Verizon, Disney StudioLab Tout 5G Partnership

Work includes developing 5G-enabled cloud-based production workflows.
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Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg

5G-enabled cloud-based production workflows, live volumetric video and delivery of movies to theaters are some of the developments that Disney's StudioLab — an R&D unit launched on the Disney lot last year — will aim to make a reality with its new StudioLab Innovation Partner, Verizon.

Verizon on Tuesday touted the partnership during its CES keynote in Las Vegas, where its recently named CEO Hans Vestberg talked about the broad potential from entertainment to healthcare of a 5G network, which the company has started to roll out in four U.S. cities, including Indianapolis, Sacramento, Houston and Los Angeles.

5G will "change everything," said the exec, calling the fifth generation of wireless technology "a quantum leap compared to 4G" with the potential to reach peak data rates of 10GB/sec. He cited as an example that it could take three to four minutes to download a movie with 4G, but that might be reduced to 10 seconds with 5G.

Joining Vestberg onstage was Walt Disney Studios CTO Jaimie Voris. The pair talked about how 5G could impact everything from how production facilities connect across the world, to how entertainment content is created, delivered and consumed.

In addition to the aforementioned initiatives, as part of the partnership, Verizon and Disney plan to also work on areas including 5G-enabled 3D scanning, as well as delivering marketing and theatrical experiences like interactive characters, location-based experiences and augmented reality and mixed reality experiences (which would also get a big quality boost).

Verizon also revealed that it has teamed with The New York Times to launch a new journalism 5G lab that will be based in the newspaper’s main newsroom. As part of Verizon’s Open Innovation Group, the 5G lab will give reporters early access to Verizon’s technology and equipment.

“We believe the speed and lack of latency in 5G can spark a revolution in digital journalism,” New York Times CEO Mark Thompson told the CES crowd, adding that it will bring “richer and more immediate journalism to audiences.” He showed off an example of an interactive story from the Times and said that 5G would allow the newsroom to be more ambitious in its multimedia storytelling.

To help jumpstart 5G developments, Verizon also announced at CES a “Built on 5G Challenge,” urging entrants to create applications that take advantage of 5G connectivity. Up to $1 million in total grant funding will be awarded to innovators to develop their concepts on live 5G networks located at Verizon’s 5G New York Lab, 5G Waltham Lab, 5G Cambridge Lab and new locations being developed in Los Angeles; Palo Alto, California; and Washington.

Natalie Jarvey contributed to this story.