The fifth generation of mobile networks is likely to change journalism forever, virtual reality pioneer Nonny de la Peña said Tuesday as part of her keynote held at this year's iteration of South by Southwest festival. Ms. de la Peña has been experimenting with VR applications in journalism for several years now, having gained attention for her reporting on the Syrian civil war and numerous other projects which aimed to immerse viewers into difficult issues and present them with 360-degree videos of incidents such as police beatings. The visceral nature of that kind of content makes VR an unprecedented format for delivering news and moving audiences around the world, Ms. de la Peña believes, having reiterated as much during her SXSW talk.
The award-winning journalist is now expecting 5G to bring VR reporting to the next level, primarily by allowing journalists willing to embrace such technologies to reach a much wider audience. That expansion will largely be fueled by mobile devices which will be able to rely on edge computing to deliver fully immersive VR content without actually having to process it. Instead, the bulk of the heavy workloads associated with such technology will be able to be handled by nearby edge hosts whose relative proximity to their clients will allow for unprecedented latencies and improved perceived speeds while still offering all benefits of cloud computing and higher capacities. Due to that state of affairs, journalists shouldn't be conservative when drafting potential wireless VR use cases and should trust tech companies such as Qualcomm and wireless carriers to be able to handle their demands, Ms. de la Peña said.
5G networks are presently entering their final phase of trials and development, with a number of national network operators in the United States already vowing to start commercializing them as early as this year. Large-scale rollouts in the U.S. are expected to start a year later, whereas all four of the largest mobile service providers in the country already pledged to offer nationwide coverage by 2020.