• EBU’s Jean Philip De Tender calls for creation of “5G broadcast”
  • De Tender sets out importance of 5G to PSBs during Media2020 speech
  • EBU wants more involvement in discussions on 5G standards

The European Broadcast Union (EBU) has called for the creation of “5G broadcast” with public services broadcaster offering free-to-air services to mobiles across 5G networks.

The call was made by EBU media director Jean Philip De Tender during a speech made at the Media2020 event in Bucharest.

In his speech, De Tender called 5G a “transformative technology” that, along with the likes of AI, cloud and the internet of things is “shaping tomorrow’s world”.

Public service broadcasters, he said, need to take 5G “seriously” because 5G will play a vital role in helping to deliver new media technologies such as UHDTV, which has around 8 million pixels per image, or the second generation of UHDTV which will have 32 million pixels. Also, tech such as next generation audio and virtual reality will be “technically more possible with 5G delivery” he said.

“There are still many unknowns about 5G,” said De Tender in the speech, which can be found in full here. “Will the costs justify the step for the consumer and the network providers? It may be a world of lower ‘network’ costs but higher ‘terminal’ costs. There will be a challenge in making 5G both workable and affordable.

“But equally, there is an increasing demand for mobile data, and mobile traffic continues to grow. The capacity of 5G to provide what the public appears to want more and more of, means that we have to take it seriously. There is a real chance that 5G will become a popular delivery medium.”

He admitted that there is debate among EBU members, which include some of Europe’s biggest broadcasters, over whether public service broadcasters should be involved in 5G, or what level that involvement should take. But, added De Tender, there is a “general acceptance” that PSBs should be involved if 5G does, as is expected, become a popular model of content delivery.

“Our mission is to provide a universal system for the whole population, and if an important part of the population is using 5G terminals, we have to provide them with our content,” he explained.

That involvement includes helping to determine 5G standards so that it can be used not just for content delivered over the internet, but also for 5G broadcast, allowing free-to-air services.

“It should be possible to receive free-to-air 5G services on any 5G device without needing a specific SIM card,” he concluded.

“If this is done, the user would be able to enjoy high speed connections for both the conventional internet services and the equivalent of both linear broadcast and non-linear services, on the same mobile terminal. We could watch free-to-air TV channels on any terminal, including smart phone. If we can achieve this, we will have a ‘win-win’ situation for service providers and users.”

The EBU has already been working on numerous 5G trials and taking part in discussions with telecoms bodies determining 5G standards. In July, the Digital TV Group (DTG) announced it is taking part in the EBU’s 5G Deployments project on media distribution and production.

The Union was also heavily involved in IBC2019, with director general Noel Curran calling for regulation of the FAANGs during a panel session at the event.

5G-MAG launched at IBC2019

At IBC2019 the 5G Media Action Group (5G-MAG) was launched, adding to IBC’s rich history as a launch pad for major industry initiatives.

Instigator Antonio Arcidiacono, director of technology and innovation at the EBU, introduced 5G-MAG as being driven by momentum from the European project 5G-XCast, similar in model to the DVB and DAB, and built around a major board with five reporting groups.

Explaining that the core ambition is to build “an operational framework for the harmonious, market driven implementation of 5G solutions capable of satisfying requirements in the production and delivery of content and services”, Arcidiacono added: “My dream is the Winter Olympics of 2024. We could see 5G broadcast services delivering all the action to smartphones.”

The launch saw Arcidiacono supported by 50 founding members.

“People are keen to open a new offer to the market which is not just 5G as it is realised by the telcos,” he said. “And what we intend by sponsoring the idea of combining a multilayer network where we have the unicast services plus the multicast services, and possibly even a satellite overlay network, is to limit the investment in the unicast network.

“The idea of using the law of physics that works best means that by following this route we will be able to accelerate development of 5G services, as well as sustain the cost effectiveness of an overall market offer,” he added. “We need to federate all global interests, including national regulators, into a common effort to determine a single standard, so that all 5G services can be available to any citizen.”