The DTG (Digital TV Group) the center of UK digital TV, in partnership with Digital Catapult, Global Wireless Solutions, O2 and Rohde & Schwarz, have successfully secured Government funding to develop a 5G mobile-based platform to broadcast events in stadiums and other venues.
DTG and partners plan to provide enhanced interactive viewing experiences direct to devices in stadia and at other select locations, using 5G broadcast also known as FeMBMS: further enhanced multimedia broadcast multicast service.
“The objective of the consortium’s VISTA (Video In Stadia Technical Architecture) project is to test and demonstrate consumer benefits and technical feasibility of using 5G FeMBMS technology.”
This collaboration brings together complementary skills from across the whole mobile media delivery ecosystem from devices, to networks to broadcast, to content and venues. The consortium has strong pre-existing relationships built on successful R&D work and 5G trials.
The £2.3 million project has received £1.3 million from the Government as part of 5G Create, a competition to support innovators exploring new uses for 5G to improve people’s lives and boost British businesses.
The project will define use cases which stimulate the development of the device and network ecosystem to support 5G broadcast and by having these features inherent in network architecture it provides built-in efficiencies which are seamless to end-users.
It will also demonstrate how 5G broadcast can reduce carbon footprint by reducing the number of base stations and the amount of spectrum needed to deliver content to mass audiences.
The result will highlight the potential for delivery of content and ways of watching which can bring about possibilities for collaborative viewing and interplay between venues meaning that watching a sporting event becomes a social occasion, even if you cannot leave the house.
Matt Warman, Digital Infrastructure Minister explains, “5G presents a huge opportunity to enhance the stadium experience for sports fans with seamless access to multi-angle video, replays and stats. Project Vista is one of several high tech projects the government is funding to seize the full benefits of 5G for the UK, and I look forward to sharing the lessons learned with the UK’s wider live events sector.”
“The efficient nature of 5G delivery and the low impact on data usage of broadcast technology will mean that it becomes viable to deliver more content, though more channels and to more devices,” says Alex Buchan, Strategic Technologist at the DTG. “Leading to increased fan engagement with teams, an ‘all access’ opportunity for viewers, and increasing the appeal of sport across generations.”
Adds Manfred Reitmeier, Vice President Transmitters and Amplifier Systems at Rohde & Schwarz, “At Rohde & Schwarz, we are actively involved in 5G Broadcast/Multicast trials around the world. This live event related application is the next important step for us with this technology. We are tremendously excited to participate in this UK-based strategic initiative.”
Derek McManus, COO, O2 Telefonica notes, “We are excited to play our part in the development of this ground-breaking initiative; working with industry specialists to create something innovative and exciting that will not only enhance our customers’ experience at events but add a whole new and exciting dimension to live sports. Programs like this which harness the power of next-generation connectivity, create fresh opportunities that benefit customers and businesses while helping to boost the economy.”
Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult says, “The arena experience has been largely unchanged for millennia — but 5G offers the opportunity finally to give live audiences more. Digital Catapult’s leadership in industrial 5G innovation combined with that of our partners, opens up exciting possibilities that will usher in a new dynamic and interactive era of arena experiences.”
Concludes Paul Carter, CEO, Global Wireless Solutions, “With project VISTA we are proposing to change the match-day experience (using 5G) by giving consumers choice over content — which camera angle they want to see (live), background information about the teams and more. This can benefit both match attendees but also offer the potential for remote live access (especially relevant with COVID-19). This is just the start of how our everyday experience will be enhanced through 5G.”