Dec 17, 2019

Newsrooms begin tinkering with 5G

Illustration:Sarah Grillo, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The New York Times began conducting field tests of its new 5G technologies on the sidelines of Sunday's Giants vs. Dolphins game, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: The New York Times head of research and development Marc Lavallee says that the company is preparing for a slew of 5G firsts next year, like the first 5G Super Bowl and the first 5G Olympics.

The first experiment at Sunday's game involved using a small device called a "backpack" that can transmit media through 5G signal available at the stadium. (About half of NFL stadiums are currently wired for 5G.)

  • Eventually, Lavallee says this will be all done through a mobile device. "The real transition point is next year, when you go from having not having widely available 5G service, to having more reliable access that you can actually use for reporting."

The second experiment took place in the late summer during Hurricane Dorian. The Times used 5G equipment as part of its reporting process to speed up the way it captured 360-degree videos and images of the storm's damage.

  • The Times has long used photogrammetry, or the practice of taking thousands of photos or videos of every single angle of an object or place and stitching them together to create a 360-degree photo or video, for AR and VR. Using 5G will make this much faster, and allow more detail.

The big picture: The New York Times set up a 5G lab at beginning 2019 with the backing of Verizon, knowing that a full 5G rollout would take years. It's one of several newsrooms beginning to experiment with ways that 5G will change journalism.

  • The Washington Post and Verizon rival AT&T announced a 5G partnership last month.
  • Verizon Media, which includes brands like HuffPost and Yahoo Sports, launched a 5G studio in Los Angeles in April to test faster content transfers.

Our thought bubble: 5G, for now, is like the new augmented reality or virtual reality. It's not widely accessible, but big newsrooms want to start experimenting with it so that they will be ahead of the curve when it eventually reaches mass consumer adoption.

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What we're watching in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Ralph Morse/Getty Contributor, Kirn Vintage Stock/Getty Contributor

This is going to be a momentous presidential election year, as we face the very real possibility that an impeached president could be re-elected for the first time in U.S. history. But there will be plenty of other events that will matter in 2020, too.

  • Here’s what Axios’ newsletter authors and reporters will be watching — from the future of tech regulation to the impact climate change and job automation will have on all of our lives. (Sign up for their newsletters here.)
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Huawei ends 2019 with record-high $122 billion in revenue

A Huawei store in Hangzhou, China on Dec. 12, 2019. Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese telecom giant Huawei said Tuesday that its revenue reached $122 billion in 2019, setting a new record for the company even as it weathers a campaign by the Trump administration to block its global expansion, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Many U.S. officials fear that Huawei's telecom equipment could be used by China for surveillance, and that a 5G equipment market dominated by Huawei would give the authoritarian government in Beijing access to massive amounts of data. The company is just one flashpoint in the escalating U.S. confrontation with China.

Go deeperArrowDec 31, 2019

Czech cybersecurity chief's firing not related to Huawei dispute

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. Photo: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

The firing of the Czech Republic's cybersecurity director, Dusan Navratil, was not linked to an ongoing dispute with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, sources with direct knowledge tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Czech cybersecurity agency has fended off numerous overtures from Huawei, bucking the trend among Eastern European nations. Navratil’s departure does not signal a change in this stance.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019