This paper describes trials carried out by the BBC and associated partners in the areas of distribution and content generation using 5G technologies and examines the future role that 5G could have in broadcasting.
The 5G RuralFirst project represents the first public trial of 4G/5G technology for live broadcast radio – a medium for which delivery to mobile devices and vehicles is particularly important. It provides insights on the requirements for a useable and attractive service and the technical results are being used to inform inputs into standards for future mobile developments.
The 5G Smart Tourism project examined the types of media experiences that 5G could make practical as new enhanced network capabilities become available to broadcasters.
The results of these projects are presented and the emerging requirements for future 5G deployments are explored.
As the Internet becomes increasingly important to deliver the BBC’s programmes and services, it is vital that everyone in the UK has good access, regardless of where they live, to enable them to receive existing TV and radio services and also to benefit from opportunities for new experiences.
5G is the latest mobile technology development and promises significant improvements in quality of service, spectrum efficiency and seamless connectivity. Practical concerns remain on the economics of rural deployment and the precise benefits that 5G will offer to broadcasters for programme distribution and content production.
A number of mobile technologies have previously been proposed for delivery of broadcast content to mobiles, including DVB-H and DVB-NGH. However, these have not been universally supported in handsets and the networks to support reliable delivery have not been deployed. 5G technologies are expected to be universally supported in mobile terminals and thus provide broadcasters with an important new opportunity to deliver future services.
5G also has the potential to transform the types of services that broadcasters can deliver. Emerging technologies such as Mobile Edge Compute (MEC), network slicing and heterogeneous network orchestration have the potential to support Virtual Reality (VR), object-based broadcasting and a move from traditional broadcast services towards wholly IP delivery that enables new content and user experiences.
This paper details initial trials undertaken by BBC R&D as part of collaborative projects with industry and academia. The projects have explored areas of distribution and content to help understand the benefits of 5G to broadcasters. While the trials explore the benefits that full 5G could bring, the current lack of commercial equipment means that certain elements had to be implemented using pre-5G and Wi-Fi technologies supplemented by an enhanced modem developed in-house. The individual capabilities of all these would be brought together within a future 5G system.
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