KT takes the 5G party to Surfyy Beach

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KT takes the 5G party to Surfyy Beach


From left: A robotic bingsu, or shaved ice, machine; a visitor rides a zip line wearing a 5G neckband; visitors can learn about 5G at KT’s 5G Beach Festival SWAG at Surfyy Beach in Yangyang, Gangwon. [KT]

YANGYANG, Gangwon - As the popularity of water sports grows in Korea, Yangyang in Gangwon has quickly emerged as the place to be for budding surfers, with thousands of people flocking to the popular Surfyy Beach complex every week to have a go at riding the waves.

This week, mobile operator KT has joined them.

KT is using its 5G Beach Festival SWAG, which is running at Surfyy Beach in Yangyang for 10 days until Aug. 18, to raise people’s awareness of 5G and its usefulness by applying the network to the water-based activities available at Surfyy Beach, which encompasses everything from surfing to sailing.

The most obvious use for 5G in waters ports is livestreaming. On Friday, a jet surfer - a surfer riding a motorized, self-propelled board - livestreamed his experience through a 5G-enabled camera array mounted on a neckband that allows users to take 360-degree footage and broadcast it in high-resolution. The video feed, which mostly just showed large waves, was broadcast in real time on a screen on the beach. The same neckband is also used to livestream a zip line.

Conventional surfers can take advantage of KT’s Position View service, which uses an array of cameras arranged along the beach to capture footage of surfers across the beach as they ride the waves. KT also offers an e-sports live app experience, through which users can watch multiple e-sports games at once without latency.

Other activities offered on the beach like cryotherapy - where people are blasted with extremely cold air that can be as cold as minus 190-degrees Celsius (minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit) - and a robotic bingsu, or shaved ice, machine are not at all related to 5G, but still welcomed by visitors.

Although some activities, like demonstrations of KT’s live e-sports app, may seem impractical on the beach, the mobile operator is hoping to both raise people’s general understanding of 5G and improve their vacation experience, especially millennials who are active on social media.

“Millennials enjoy sharing their experiences - whether it’s photos or footage - in real time,” said Sung Eun-mi, vice president of 5G services at KT’s marketing division at a press event held in Yangyang on Saturday.

“KT jumped into applying 5G to leisure activities with the hope of helping people [share their experiences] using the network […] This idea to apply 5G to leisure activities was born out of the thought that we have not been able to offer many substantial 5G experiences to customers despite the effort it took for us to activate the network. We hope to make it easier for customers to use the network on a daily level.”

The livestreamed footage taken during the festival is also being shared on a KT YouTube channel. The mobile operator says it is working on sharing videos with customers on a cloud system by next month, as the company plans to expand the utilization of 5G to other leisure activities throughout the year, from quad biking to snowboarding, luge, marathon running and many more.

Despite the goal, KT is still limited by where the 5G network is live and how well it works in different areas, as seen in the latency experienced when this reporter was watching a VR video on Surfyy Beach on Friday.

“Many of the leisure activities are enjoyed at locations [like mountains or beaches] where network installation is difficult,” said a spokesperson for KT. “But we’re working on offering a stable network in partnership with recreational operators.”

Trying out Samsung Electronics’ latest Galaxy Note10, which will go on sale on Aug. 23, along with the Note10+, is also possible at the festival. KT exclusively offers the Note10 in red.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]
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