With 5G promising very high capacity broadband and low costs to the consumer, Europe needs to devise, assess and demonstrate a 5G network architecture for large scale immersive media delivery, says EBU’s Antonio Arcidiacono

Antonio Arcidiacono EBU

Antonio Arcidiacono of the EBU says Europe needs to devise 5G network architecture for immersive media delivery

On the Friday of IBC (13 September) in meeting room G106, those gathered will witness the transmutation of the completed EBU project 5G-XCast into the 5G Media Action Group (5G-MAG), a brand new global, all-organisations initiative with similar aspects of scope and structure to the DVB.

The brainchild of Antonio Arcidiacono, the director of technology and innovation at the EBU, 5G-MAG will take into that meeting eight general objectives, plus a core mantra that focuses on the building of an operational framework for the harmonious and market-driven implementation of 5G solutions in the areas of production and distribution.

“5G-XCast has been a very interesting experience for all the players who participated, and the huge momentum generated has triggered an opportunity,” says Arcidiacono. “Through this I found people interested in opening a new offer to the market, which is not just 5G as it is released by the Telcos.”

Into the pot have gone 5G Unicast for broadband, everything good about 5G Multicast, and an incredible infrastructure of new 5G-MAG sub groups.

“The idea is combining what exists today and what additionally the broadcasting legislators will add. It is tailored for covering 100% of the population and 100% of the territories,” says Arcidiacono. “At the moment the mobile companies need to serve 100% of a territory, and that is a very strong element.

“The other area, fast growing, is the production side of 5G for contribution and the connection of cameras and other devices in big production facilities,” he adds. “This could go to a live IP network.”

So, on one side there is the need to send information to 100% of the population, and on the other the bid to explore the 5G promise of low latency, very high-bandwidth contribution links.

Team players
The good results from 5G-XCast and the experimentation by many industry players prompted Arcidiacono to spot a need to federate all the effort.

“For 5G broadcast it is important to federate the interests of multiple industry players from content creation and service provision. Then you have the terminals,” says Arcidiacono, adding that a solution developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) had already proved that this could be an effective approach.

“My concept [cuts across] all continents – if you look at China a new service/infrastructure provider for 5G broadcast services was authorised in June,” he adds. “All the movements happening are in line with what is shaping in the 3GPPP. All the different [proponents] of 5G broadcast in other countries are telling me if we want to make 5G-MAG a success we need to federate all interests into a common effort that determines a single standard via which all services can be made available to any citizen anywhere in the world.”

The purpose of the IBC meeting is to officially launch 5G-MAG, and at last count over 40 founder members were affirmed.

“We are going to have a founders meeting and resolve preparations for IBC on August 30 in Geneva. This will prepare the logistics and provide the legal papers needed to create the organisation,” says Arcidiacono.

“5G-MAG is something similar to a DVB type of organisation. It is not-for-profit, and will be built on a consortium of people,” he adds. “It goes far beyond the pure EBU membership of public broadcasters, and it is similar to what the industry has done in the past with DVB and DAB.”

5G-Mag will emerge with a major board under which there will be five reporting groups.

“One will be the 5G distribution/broadcasting part, another group will handle the contribution/production matters, and the third will be a technical group, like the technical module in the DVB,” says Arcidiacono. “It will take care of the liaison between what is going to happen in 3GPPP and what has already happened, because the scope of 5G-MAG is to go from the existing specifications to the deployment of operational services.

“It will be an action group serving the purpose of co-ordinating the effort of the world community as it moves from theory and technical specifications to the deployment of multiple 5G services in the market,” he adds.

This encompasses terminal developments, interoperability of the elements in the network, and chip sets.

“The fourth module will cover regulatory and frequency policy issues, and this is to do with the institutions joining the 5G-MAG effort,” says Arcidiacono. “I intend to invite the DVB and the regulators from different countries to participate in this group, so the end result would be a consensus of all the participants of the public and private broadcasters, the industry and the regulators, as well as governments.”

All of this is reminiscent of when the DVB formed. The fifth module will handle promotion and marketing.

“This will communicate the achievements we produce, the efforts made in on-going trials, what kind of content is made available, and what kind of chip sets and terminals are made available,” explains Arcidiacono.

General objectives
The depth of discussion at the launch of 5G-MAG will be based on identifying and addressing the commercial aspects of 5G-based solutions in the production and distribution of content and services; the commonality between the needs of the media, transport, public safety, and other vertical industry sectors; bringing 5G broadcast enabled equipment to the market, in particular in smartphones and cars; and developing an implementation reference model for the collaborative 5G infrastructure.

“In each country you will have three or four operators sharing a common infrastructure for 5G”

Additionally, accelerating network rollout to achieve near-universal coverage, regulation and the availability of the radio spectrum, technical standardisation, and opening a competitive market for equipment vendors and new services will be hot issues at IBC.

“There is an additional element we will discover in coming years – for the sustainability of 5G networks it is very likely that there will be networks that are shared amongst different operators,” predicts Arcidiacono. “I imagine that in each country you will have three or four operators sharing a common infrastructure for 5G; it will give them access to provide their services to their specific customers.

“Likewise, the broadcast part will be an additional layer into that system,” he adds. “This part is key and will be dealt with by the technical module. And in the distribution module the discussion will be more at the business level and help to create the agreements made between mobile operators and broadcast operators.”

Something tangible
Arcidiacono had experience with the launch of S Band mobile services over a decade back and concedes it was “maybe too early”. From that he takes a firm view.

“It is very good to specify the technical part, but if you are not going from the spec to the actual deployment implementation things are not happening,” he says. “What has always been my experience is that you need somebody who takes care of bringing the theory, the spec and the paper into something tangible and deployable. That is the kind of mandate that we are trying to give 5G-MAG.

“I do not believe that in two years that everything will be solved, and everything developed,” he adds. “But as always we need to create the offer and let the market adapt to it.”