Transforming Live Events with the Power of 5G

By John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging TechnologiesAugust 15, 2022

For those who love music, nothing beats seeing your favorite artist live in concert. From the excitement of the performers rallying the crowd, to feeling the beat echoing in your chest, it's an experience like no other.

And now, 5G is taking that experience to a whole new level. And this isn’t the theoretical “someday 5G will enable XYZ...” kind of thing. I’m talking right now. Our network is ready. The technology is here.

We recently proved it with Mixhalo, a graduate of our 5G Open Innovation Lab. The startup created a technology that delivers high-quality audio in real-time to attendees wearing headphones at concerts or any other live event. It’s the brainchild of Mixhalo co-founder Michael Einziger, who’s also the guitarist for the multi-platinum band INCUBUS. While on tour, he realized that the performers on stage had a superior audio experience to the audience because they wear ear monitors. Einziger knew that delivering the same experience to fans could be a gamechanger. And I can attest, Mixhalo immerses you into the music more than you can imagine.

Mixhalo typically relies on Wi-Fi, but we wanted to see how 5G could supercharge the experience. And supercharge it, it did.

During a concert for T-Mobile employees at our headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, Mixhalo had a band play classics while the audience listened to the music from Mixhalo’s soundboard – the same audio musicians hear while they’re playing – in real-time through their ear buds.

That sounds fairly simple, but here's where it gets interesting. The challenge with sending audio to people in the audience is that they are sitting in front of big speakers sending soundwaves at more than 1,000 feet per second. That means, if you are 50 feet from the speaker, your phone has to get the audio in less than 50 milliseconds. If your network is too slow, the listener will hear an annoying echo. T-Mobile's 5G network was fast enough to beat the soundwaves to the audience … and the Mixhalo app actually had to DELAY the audio from hitting peoples' ears so that it was in sync with the music coming from the loudspeakers. And unbeknownst to the audience, this was an excellent way to showcase our edge computing capability over 5G, as we installed the Mixhalo server at our edge to enable even faster response times.

The Mixhalo team also turned off the speakers and played into the microphones, sending the audio only through the Mixhalo app. The experience for listeners was great, and people nearby not attending the concert heard nothing. I guess you could call it a "silent 5G concert".

To pull that off for a crowd of hundreds – even thousands – you need a network with super high capacity (for speed and connections) and super low latency (for real-time responsiveness). That’s what we’re delivering at T-Mobile… and not just for large cities or certain venues. We have the largest and fastest 5G network in the country, already covering over 95% of Americans.

Mixhalo - paired with an industry-leading 5G network - has the potential to transform live events beyond concerts too. Imagine attending a baseball game and hearing the play-by-play in real-time instead of dealing with the annoying radio delay. And listen in as your favorite athletes joke around in the dugout before hitting the field. Or imagine watching a presentation in a foreign language and having the ability to switch from English translation, to Spanish, to Mandarin, all on demand and in real-time. All cool to think about, right?

I'd like to thank the entire Mixhalo team, with a special shout out to co-founder Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger, Jordyn Simone and Liza Kaye for the incredible performance that brought the power of 5G to life. And thank you to the T-Mobile technology team, working hard every day to deliver a network that makes exciting applications like Mixhalo possible. This was an experience I won't forget… and I can't wait to see where we go next.