IBC created the Accelerator programme to support the media and entertainment technology sector with a framework for agile and collaborative innovation. One of the key focus areas is new creative, production and distribution opportunities with 5G.
Indeed, 5G technology was featured in two IBC Accelerator projects in 2022: 5G & the Arena of the Future for XR Events and 5G Remote Production. 5G is also part of three IBC Accelerator projects announced for 2023, with themes relating to 5G XR and sports, remote production, and ultra-latency networks.
As observed by Rick Young, SVP, head of global products at LTN, the shift to 5G networks is well underway.
“IBC will be a great platform to spotlight how it provides affordable, flexible, high-quality solutions that drive revenue. The industry has moved from traditional linear distribution models into the digital world with an IP-based approach to reach more global audiences. These are just some amazing examples of what 5G brings,” Young says.
He adds: “With the industry moving in a new direction and consumer demands higher than ever, 5G provides the infrastructure to handle today’s modern challenges. An IP distribution model is a testament to this as it can deliver unlimited scalability and monetisation for multicast transmission, but media companies need the right solution to provide such infrastructure.”
Lucy Nguyen, business development director of emerging technologies at Accedo, points out that 4G was “considered an overkill until people started watching videos on the phone, which surprised many people. Extended reality is going to bring new formats that are going to be beyond traditional video. XR experiences are going to bring video, 3D models, metadata, spatial audio and many new formats to be created that will make 5G a necessity”.
Nguyen says this will be particularly interesting for sports in-stadium experiences. “Imagine fans in the stadium being able to stream high-resolution multi-camera streams to supplement what they are seeing on the pitch. It could also enable them to render high resolution 3D models or even access ultra-low latency game statistics overlays in augmented reality.”
She notes that 5G is also poised to enhance the at-home sports viewing experience, “because it will allow much more content to be delivered instantly from the stadium. Again this could be multi-camera angles on a single feed or adding interactive features or content straight from the stadium. All of this can be packaged up by the operators, together with the 5G connectivity, to provide end-to-end at-home and in-stadium packages for sports organisations.”
Solving the latency challenge
Bart Lozia, CEO of Better Software Group (BSG), agrees that a significant advantage of 5G is “its ability to decrease latency to an unprecedented level. With response times as low as one millisecond, 5G ensures real-time interactions and seamless streaming experiences. Gone are the days of experiencing delays while watching live events, as 5G enables low-latency streaming that replicates real-time actions flawlessly”.
Furthermore, Lozia says, 5G “empowers mobile-first applications, opening up a new realm of possibilities for augmented reality, interactivity, and artificial intelligence. Users without Wi-Fi connections can now enjoy advanced streaming capabilities on their mobile devices, paving the way for richer and more immersive experiences”.
“The capacity of 5G is truly remarkable”, Lozia adds, “capable of supporting a 100-fold increase in traffic capacity. This means that intelligent devices, such as connected cars and autonomous devices, can communicate with each other in real time, creating intricate and efficient wireless ecosystems. In addition to its extraordinary capacity, 5G delivers improved battery efficiency, ensuring that viewers can stay connected to live streams even in traditionally poor service zones without excessively draining their device’s battery life”.
Going to the cloud
Jim Brickmeier, CEO at Velocix, notes that continued investment in 5G helps to accelerate the growth of content viewing on mobile devices.
“However, the rising viewership is driving demands from mobile operators for more effective streaming architectures to improve scaling, boost resiliency and avoid network congestion. There’s also a keen interest in improving the viewing experience for mobile subscribers, especially for premium live sports content which is highly watched and especially sensitive to any latency issues,” he says.
Brickmeier notes that enhancements to 5G video streaming can be accomplished by migrating content delivery to an elastic, edge-cloud CDN architecture where video caching software is run in a multi-tenant or Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) platform that is positioned closer to consumers.
“By combining this cloud-native caching architecture with mobile-optimised request routing software that intelligently coordinates CDN resources to ensure peak network efficiency, a mobile operator can slash streaming latency, as well shorten start-up times, and improve video quality for viewers. Additionally, mobile operators also benefit from the on-demand scaling of edge-cloud caches, which can dynamically respond to changing network conditions and capacity constraints,” he says.
Brickmeier concludes that moving to 5G mobile-optimised CDNs “elevates of the overall video streaming experience for subscribers while also resolving the core business efficiency objectives of mobile operators, making it a win-win for everyone”.
According to Mala Ramakrishnan, chief product officer and co-founder of consumer engagement platform CuVo, the introduction of 5G technology brings disruptive changes to customer feedback, particularly in content streaming. “The advantages of 5G for streaming are evident including seamless real-time streaming and serving more users at once,” she says.
Ramakrishnan lists a number of implications for customer feedback, including real-time feedback, where 5G facilitates immediate sharing of customer feedback via online reviews, social media, and dedicated feedback channels; enhanced multimedia feedback, where faster speeds ease sharing of media-rich feedback, improving actionability of customer experiences; AR and VR feedback, where 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth support immersive AR/VR feedback, enhancing product development, and customer engagement; IoT integration, as 5G’s connectivity facilitates automatic collection of valuable feedback data, enabling proactive problem-solving and personalised experiences; and improved data analytics owing to faster speeds and larger bandwidth.
“As 5G evolves, businesses must adapt to leverage its potential, delivering unparalleled content and immersive experiences while harnessing customer feedback at scale,” she adds.
5G use cases
Mark Donnigan, market developer at NETINT and marketing consultant to the streaming industry, summarises some of the leading 5G use cases for the Content Everywhere industry and comments on their applicability and developments to date:
Extended reality (XR): Using 5G enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), video streaming technology vendors can deliver high-resolution, low-latency XR experiences such as 8k virtual reality. These experiences can be rendered more realistic with technologies like 6DoF (six degrees of freedom), allowing users to explore the virtual environment naturally. The Omnidirectional Media Format (OMAF) developed by MPEG and the HEVC codec standard allow for ultra-efficient delivery of 360-degree video content using video processing units being pioneered by Google, Meta, and NETINT.
Remote production: 5G is opening a new paradigm in production called remote production or REMI (remote integration model). In this model, the raw feeds are sent to a centralised studio using 5G’s Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC) service. Protocols such as Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) and Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) are seeing rapid adoption and are the enabler for the reliable transfer of live video over the Internet.
Ultra-low latency live sports streaming: 5G technology is unique in its ability to transmit video with ultra-low latency using techniques such as MEC. MEC moves the video processing functions closer to the edge of the network. In a live sports event, viewers can see the action almost in real-time. Adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR) technologies such as MPEG-DASH or Apple’s HLS, coupled with new low-latency modes (e.g., LL-HLS, LL-DASH), enable the best possible quality video to reach each viewer while keeping latency to a minimum. MEC makes the need for ultra-efficient hardware like Arm-based CPUs and ASIC-powered VPUs even more relevant.
User-generated content: Technologies like RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) and WebRTC can be used for real-time, high-quality user-generated content streaming. 5G’s high uplink speeds allow users to broadcast their own high-definition videos from events to create an immersive and engaging experience.
Personalised content and advertising: Ad personalisation can be achieved with dynamic ad insertion, a technology that uses AI algorithms to insert relevant ads into the video stream, based on user data. With 5G and using ultra-efficient VPUs that can encode an ad using just in time techniques based on the viewers’ demographic and device specific data, it is now possible to deliver multiple versions of the same content to further enhance personalisation.