Have you ever wondered if 5G is really all that it’s cracked up to be? Or maybe you’re not even quite sure what, exactly, 5G is and how it differs from 4G? And you want to know, most importantly, how 5G will help the media and technology industry?
NAB CTO and EVP Sam Matheny and Ateme’s Dave Brass review these questions in the first of NAB Amplify’s new “Hey, Sam!” Q&A series, tackling the issues of who’s who and what’s what in technology and M&E.
First things first, Brass explains, is that 5G derives from “one plus four is five;” 5G offers the capability of 4G, and adds to it.
Lower latency is a key distinguishing factor for 5G vs. 4G. 5G latency is down to about 10 milliseconds latency, compared to 4G’s 100 milliseconds latency.
The question of bandwidth improvement is a bit trickier. 5G offers — potentially — up to 5 gigabits per second of bandwidth, Brass says. In contrast, 4G topped out around 50 megabits per second. 5G download speeds average closer to one gigbit per second in typical real-world circumstances, but some applications will be as high as five gigabits or in the hundreds of megabits, a significant improvement from the prior broadband standard.
Why the discrepancy in download speeds? It has to do with spectrum and wavelength used for 5G. Matheny notes that 5G is on 600 megahertz, formerly TV spectrum, that was repurposed after the spectrum repack and sold to companies like T-Mobile. Now, in this new application, these radio waves often have to travel long distances or go through walls to reach users, so proximity to the router is still key for 5G.
What else makes 5G attractive?
In the future, companies may be able to put a private network online and then utilize a “network splicing” technique to “dedicate a certain amount of bandwidth to a certain function,” Brass suggests. And that’s particularly interesting for broadcasters or those in live production environments.
Brass compares this advance to when broadcasting moved into the realm of traditional internet; it may take some time for us to fully realize its potential — and potential new challenges.
5G’s low-latency and “bigger pipe” are prime for real-time live broadcasts and even more interesting ideas.
Want more? The CONNECT pillar at NAB Show covers all things distribution and delivery — and that definitely includes 5G. It’s also the new home of the Broadcast Engineering and IT Conference, which features sessions on ATSC 3.0, 5G and much more from trusted experts and trailblazing tech pioneers.
How does 5G play into contribution, production and distribution?
In terms of contribution, Brass offers the example of using a low-latency signal to feed an interview from the field back to the studio using a dedicated pipeline. That’s how you get to live 4K without using cellular bonding and other techniques — and avoid losing packets. Feeding multiple camera angles is another 5G plus.
On the production standpoint, Brass is less confident that 5G has natural part to play or role to improve in the broadcast world, aside from remote production, of course.
From Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to 5G and cloud production, NAB CTO and EVP Sam Matheny tackles the issues of who’s who and what’s what in technology and M&E. Learn all about the technologies that are shaping our rapidly transforming industry in NAB Amplify’s “Hey, Sam!” Q&A series:
- Hey, Sam! Tell Me About AI and ML Applications for Media
- Hey, Sam! What Is Cloud Production?
- Hey, Sam! What Is Hybrid Radio?
- Hey, Sam! How Is Streaming Impacting the TV and Video Marketplace?
There have been a lot of conversations related to remote production as the way of the future in the last two years. 5G is enabling and facilitating the new work-from-anywhere cloud-based workflow. Downloading content from the cloud at a very fast rate is key for production, offering “the fast on and off ramp that you need to manage that production side.”
Matheny also notes that, on a basic level, 5G has enabled cloud connectivity and the COVID-19 driven changes that we’re starting to take for granted.
Brass says to think of 5G as another pipeline to the internet, facilitating the transition from broadcast’s traditional one-to-many approach to the 21st century “multifaceted type of arrangement, where it’s any-to-any, not one-to-one” in the world of contribution and distribution.
5G and ATSC 3.0
How might 5G play a role with NextGen TV? 5G spectrum is broadcast-capable, but that would also require hardware upgrades to TVs or cell phones, as well as the towers that would need to ATSC 3 network-ready.
Brass notes that they are starting to see ATSC 3.0 take off in the education sector and emergency services.
Cell phones are predicted to be key to spreading 5G because of the upgrade cycle; consumers swap out mobile devices much more frequently than they buy new television sets (an average of two years vs four years).
Matheny explains that broadcasters can either view 5G as a competitor or as a potential partner that might help them reach new audiences. Matheny points out that ASTC is “really another form of wireless IP distribution” and the “dominant … type of data of IP data that’s carried is video and audio,” although it offers other potential functions.
Brass says that sports are another notable ATSC use case, enhancing how fans watch sports both at home and in the stadium.