Renowned Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro has conducted some of the world’s most acclaimed orchestras in a career stretching back more than twenty years. Never before has she conducted without being able to make direct eye-to-eye contact with her musicians. That is until 5G came along.

The maestro recently took the podium to demonstrate the precision timing of 5G connectivity. The conductor, orchestra and soloist were almost 1 km apart in three locations and could only see each other via large screens. The screens were connected via an Ericsson-powered Vodafone Portugal 5G test network, with direct streaming from 5G smartphones.

Carneiro led the orchestra and soloist through a six-minute extract of American composer Charles Ives’ 1908 work, The Unanswered Question.

One question that was answered immediately, however, was that the speed, low latency and huge data handling capabilities of 5G meant the performance was virtually indistinguishable from one where Carneiro and her musicians would share the same physical space.

The non-verbal communication skillsets of the conductor-orchestra relationship require every movement, nuance, expression and instruction from the conductor to be acted on immediately in real-time and intricate detail to deliver the full emotional performance of a piece of music. That is exactly what Ericsson’s 5G connectivity enabled at the test connecting Vodafone Portugal’s headquarters in Lisbon with a nearby theater.

The physical distance separating the performers was superfluous to the test result as the distance was limited for licensing purposes. With 5G connectivity the same results could be achieved over very large separation distances.

To ensure that the test remained as true to a live physical representation as possible, two 5G devices were deployed on each side of the demo to provide separate connections and bi-directional communication streams. This ensured that the conductor, orchestra and soloist could see each other in real-time.

The demo’s connectivity was via an Ericsson 5G Non-standalone radio network configured with 100 MHz on 3.6 GHz mid-band test frequency. Test licensing was granted by Portugal’s national regulatory authority ANACOM and deployed on Vodafone Portugal’s network.

Commercial grade 5G radio equipment from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio was used, including AIR 6488 and the latest Ericsson RAN Compute (baseband) products.

Vodafone Portugal aims to launch 5G as soon as the country’s 5G auction process is complete and corresponding licenses are made available.