The Story Behind Verizon’s 5G Super Bowl Camera (and What’s Next)


On display at Super Bowl LIV in Miami this past weekend, you probably noticed Verizon’s 5G camera. You also probably asked who cares about a 5G Super Bowl camera and if it means for future tech and IoT devices.

Although broadcasting partner for the game, Fox, wasn’t ready to completely hand the reigns over to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband (mmWave) network for Super Bowl coverage, they did connect one camera to use as a proof-of-concept for part of the live broadcast. 

Verizon has been nothing but bullish with their 5G claims, constantly touting a new “first” for 5G.  They aren’t the only carrier to tout 5G firsts though. AT&T has claimed the first Commercial Mobile 5G in 2018 and T-Mobile is now claiming the first Nationwide 5G Network. While it isn’t clear which carrier is leading he 5G revolution yet, Verizon appears to be leading in terms of “firsts” but what does this have to do with a camera?

Currently, TV cameras providing broadcast data must be wired back to the broadcast truck. This works fine for the fixed cameras but can limit mobile sideline cameras. 5G would give broadcasters the ability to stream from untethered cameras opening up new possibilities. Unlike previous wireless cameras that lacked latency, speed, and reliability to broadcast a true HD signal, a 5G Super Bowl camera would enable 5k picture or better. That 5G Super Bowl camera you saw isn’t the only use of 5G in a stadium setting, however.

Beyond A 5G Super Bowl Camera

In addition to the single-camera used to broadcast live TV, Verizon used 5G for fans at the stadium. Partnering with the NFL on their OnePass app, fans in the stadium (with 5G enabled phones) were given access to multiple camera angles in near real-time, combining the functionality to pause, slow down and trigger their own instant replay.  

A clever use of Augmented Reality (AR) was also used within the stadium itself.  By pointing their phone at a player on the field, fans could see stats player stats. Apps of this nature will also help fans find the nearest bathroom, lines, or the food carried at each concession stand. It’s fascinating, but where 5G will really provide a better experience is just around the corner.

Imagine a 5G mini camera with GoPro-like stabilization, giving viewers a live-streamed “in-ball” view as a quarterback throws a winning touch down pass, or 5k picture streamed in real-time from a drone.

Obviously this technology comes with challenges and more cost. Verizon has spent several years and around $80 million installing miles of fiber and thousands of antenna nodes throughout Hard Rock Stadium and key areas of Miami to cover as much with their 5G Ultra Wideband as possible, but that simple 5G Super Bowl camera is only the beginning. 

Chris Moeller of 3 Tree Tech
Chris Moeller

Chris Moeller is a 5G and IoT researcher at 3 Tree Tech. If you want to integrate IoT technology into your tech or need mobility infrastructure help, he’s willing to lend you his big brain. Reach out!

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Photo courtesy of Verizon via @VZUpToSpeed

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