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Canadiens vs. Canucks game gets first 5G immersive experience

Canadiens vs. Canucks game gets first 5G immersive experience

Bell’s TSN/RDS subscribers will be able to watch the Montreal Canadiens game tonight versus the Vancouver Canucks via the app's "5G View," a new service using Bell’s 5G network. The company says fans will get virtually “up close” to the game.

A press release said 5G technology will let fans “control how they view every angle of the game on their smartphones,” meaning they can zoom, pause, rewind, and use slow motion features.

Claire Gillies, president of Bell Mobility, said in an interview that because 5G offers increased bandwidth capabilities, the video feed will be coming from 80 different cameras set up in Montreal’s Bell Centre.

She said this will be the start of what the 5G network will offer, apart from faster speeds.

“There is also a feature that allows [users] to rewind up to four minutes. When you think about sports you think about these incredible plays, whether it’s goals or penalties, and they can actually rewind to four minutes and watch again from those angles,” she said.

To be able to watch the game on "5G View" users have to be subscribed to TSN Direct, available monthly for $19.99, or a 6-month prepaid plan for $99.95. Users can also get a day pass for $7.99 that will last for 24 hours.

Are Canadians ready for 5G?

Not all those with a subscription will be able to take advantage of the experience. Gillies explained that viewers with subscriptions need to be in one of the locations where Bell has launched its 5G network and need a 5G-enabled mobile device. Users also need to have a wireless plan with enough data bandwidth or be connected to high-speed internet access (50 Mbps download speed minimum). She noted that unlimited data plan aren't required, but because the service will require a lot of data, it would help.

Gillies also noted that the service is only available to those that reside within the broadcast region, meaning it's not a work-around of the usual broadcast blackouts.

“You can’t watch the Canadiens on the app if you live in Vancouver,” she said, adding that the service will be expanded to other venues and teams in the future.

Gillies says Bell has been working on the program since last summer following COVID-19 protocols. Currently, the 80 cameras have been installed specifically for a hockey game, but in the future could be reinstalled for a similar experience when watching concerts.

“There are so many applications, concerts being a big one, that we will be able to take this capability and take those cameras and turn it into the next immersive experience that revolutionizes that not only for the people who are there but also for the people who are at home or unable to attend.”

Experts have suggested that 5G networks will offer faster speeds for downloading thousands of videos, have immersive experiences, be used for future autonomous vehicles, and to perform remote surgeries.

In general, 5G operates over traditional and new cell radio frequency bands that include the low- (sub-1GHz such as 700MHz), mid- (1.6GHz, around 3.5-3.8GHz), and millimetre-wave (mmWave, such as 28GHz) ranges.

Bell launched its initial 5G network in June 2019 in Montréal, the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Since then has expanded its network to 150 different locations. The company announced in June 2020 that it would use Ericsson as its 5G vendor.