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Verizon brings fun and games to its 5G network

US telco Verizon aims to capitalise on strong demand for mobile gaming and sports streaming with a host of new products and partners.

Company execs took to the stage at Mobile World Congress Las Vegas on Wednesday to show off what it claims is the world’s first 5G gaming handheld device, a new fixed-wireless access (FWA) router, and a streaming deal with the National Football League (NFL).

First up is the new handheld, which was developed by PC peripherals maker Razer in partnership with Qualcomm. Called Razer Edge 5G, it runs on Android and is the first handheld to incorporate Qualcomm’s Snapdragon G3x Gen 1, the chip maker’s first dedicated gaming processor.

The G3x was first showcased in late 2021 in a prototype handheld developed by Razer, funnily enough. As well as letting people download and play Android mobile games, the Razer Edge 5G will also let users stream games from their console or the cloud. Verizon didn’t share a full spec, price or even a picture of what this thing looks like, probably because its formal unveiling is due to take place at Razer’s RazerCon event on 15 October.

Anyone old enough to recall the first Nokia N Gage might raise an eyebrow or two at the prospect of dedicated mobile gaming hardware, but there has arguably never been a better time to launch one. Mobile device specs have reached a point where developers can offer on-the-go gamers the kind of rich and in-depth experiences that until now have been the reserve of at-home gaming on consoles and PCs.

A report published in May by Data.AI and IDC predicted that consumer spending on gaming will hit $222 billion this year, with mobile accounting for $136 billion. There is money to be made.

Speaking of money, Verizon has also bagged a deal to bring NFL games to its +play platform. Unveiled in March but yet to commercially launch, +play is designed to be a central repository for customers’ various streaming services. Verizon has already signed up Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max, among others. Now, when it finally launches, customers will also be able to access the NFL’s in-house streaming service, aptly-titled NFL+. It means they can watch live games as well as on-demand content.

The popularity of live sports is long-established, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Verified Market Research in October last year predicted that the online sports streaming market will be worth $87.3 billion by 2028, compared to $18.1 billion in 2020.

In the midst of all the glitz and glamour of sports and gaming, Verizon also offered up something slightly more run-of-the-mill: an updated version of its Receiver fixed-wireless access (FWA) hub.

It supports 5G on mmWave and C-band, as well as 4G, and claims to offer a 100 percent faster upload speed. But perhaps the most interesting point of difference with this new one is that it is waterproof, so can be installed outdoors. As well as letting people connect to Wi-Fi outside, mounting it on an external wall or surface might help customers get a more reliable mmWave connection, what with the well-documented propagation challenges that come with higher frequencies.

Given that Juniper Research recently predicted global 5G FWA revenues will surge to $2.5 billion next year, the launch of the updated Receiver – much like the launch of the Razer Edge and the NFL partnership – is all about positioning Verizon to maximise the 5G opportunity.

“We know that devices are only as strong as the networks they’re on. Verizon has the most – and the greatest depth of – coverage, providing the best speeds coast to coast,” declared Krista Bourne, chief operating officer, Verizon Consumer Group, in a statement. “We’ll look back on this time in our industry as a turning point for life, health and culture.”

 

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