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Disney StudioLab and Verizon Partner to Explore 5G Innovations (EXCLUSIVE)

Walt Disney Studios and Verizon have partnered to explore the possibilities of 5G connectivity for media and entertainment at Disney’s StudioLab. The partnership, which was announced at CES in Las Vegas Tuesday, will give the studio the ability to use next-generation wireless broadband with peak data transmission rates of 10 gigabits per second.

“We see 5G changing everything about how media is produced and consumed,” said Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer Jamie Voris in an interview with Variety Monday. The two companies just finalized their partnership ahead of CES, but Voris said that his team already had ideas to test 5G for a wide variety of projects, including in production environments that aren’t easily accessible with traditional broadband solutions. “We shoot our movies in some very remote locations,” he said.

Verizon launched 5G wireless service in a total of 4 cities last October, including Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis and Sacramento. The launch in the entertainment capital will make it easier to explore how to use the new technology for media applications, said Verizon vice president of 5G ecosystems and innovation Sanyogita Shamsunder. “We have right in Disney’s backyard places where we can test 5G.”

The next-generation wireless technology makes it possible to download a digital movie in just 10 seconds at speeds of 300 mbps. Over 4G, the current standard for mobile internet, the same download takes 3 to 4 minutes at 20 mbps. Shamsunder said that the technology will also be perfectly suited for mobile AR and VR, which both require very low latencies.

Walt Disney Studios launched StudioLab as an on-the-lot innovation space out of the studio’s Technology Innovation Group in 2018. Since then, StudioLab has been exploring a host of technologies, including collaboration tools for creatives across the company, drones for location scouting, VR and more.

One of the innovations currently on display in the facility, which Variety got to tour last summer, is a set of large flat screen displays designed to bring movie posters in theater lobbies into the digital age. Voris suggested that these displays could potentially be networked via 5G, making it easier to send digital promotional assets directly to theaters.

Whatever the ideal media application for 5G ultimately turns out to be, Voris said that it was important to Disney to jump on the train early. “As the deployment happens, we will be ready,” he said.

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