ZTE, Dadi Cinema team up on 5G entertainment

Of all the magic promised by the development of 5G communications, the entertainment industry has the most to look forward to. 

Self-driving cars? Boooo-ring! Fast-loading videos? 4G is fine for that old-school stuff.

No, for real fun, 5G is going to dramatically up the offerings from traditional entertainment providers, allowing them to create whole new ways for us to enjoy our smartphones.

Which is why it should come as no surprise to read this week that Shenzhen-based telecommunication giant ZTE has signed a cooperative agreement with the Dadi Cinema chain to work on “5G-powered interactive entertainment”.

It won’t happen overnight, however. The companies also announced they would be setting up a research lab to explore “5G innovation for culture and entertainment”. 

Both parties agreed that what they needed was a long-term cooperation project to develop a sustainable cinema industry chain with – get ready for the marketing jargon – a “total solution, market expansion, project promotion, implementation delivery and service operation”. 

Dadi cinema is not Lionsgate, in case you hadn’t realized, dear readers. The company is a major player in the cinema business in China, however. It has bold plans, pitching itself as a “trailblazer” introducing 5G technology into the film industry, and, by so doing, intending to promote the “transformation and upgrading of the entertainment industry”, thereby creating a new “entertainment ecology centered on cinema”. 

ZTE’s contribution goes without saying. It will have the opportunity to participate in the commercialization of its 5G technology. Can you imagine Nokia having ever having had the idea to partner with, say, AMC cinemas?

The products are still pretty much a twinkle in the eye of people dressed in lab coats at ZTE and Dadi’s venture. But it should be obvious that it all starts with the hardware. Armed with a seamless and super-fast wireless connection, smartphones are going to morph into multi-shaped and multi-functional devices very soon. Just sitting on the subway laughing at a comedy or crying at a soapie will be sooo yesterday  once this gear starts getting rolled out. Indeed, as the two companies noted, 5G technology can be extended to other application scenarios, such as digital flash mob, live broadcast, E-sports and video games.

Miao Debiao, general manager of Dadi Cinema, told local media in Shenzhen that both ZTE and Dadi are the leaders in their own industries and their cooperation was expected to grow and expand the industries that will be created at the intersection of arts and technology. The president of ZTE, Xu Ziyang, said the entertainment industry provides one of the best opportunities for 5G to achieve commercial success. 

Founded in 2008, Dadi Cinema is one of the top cinema chains in China. By July this year, it had over 1,145 cinemas operating more than 6,816 screens in 29 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions across the country. In 2018, Dadi served 178 million people with a total annual box office revenue breaking RMB5.6 billion.

ZTE is the telecoms giant that nearly was no longer last year, losing billions of dollars in revenues after the US government placed it on a black list. But it has recovered since then.

There was no reaction at time of hitting the send button from any of China’s established online-entertainment giants, including the biggest one, with its headquarters a stone’s throw away from ZTE in Shenzhen. Never mind. Tencent’s leadership team is are probably too busy working on their own 5G-enabled devices for the gaming apps of tomorrow.

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