The impact of 5G today and in the future can be seen on the show floor
BY GEORGE WINSLOW, TV TECH
The fifth generation of wireless cellular technologies, 5G, isn’t as venerable and ubiquitous as the long history of broadcasting technologies being celebrated at this year’s Centennial celebration of NAB Show. Yet, 5G will have a major impact, both in terms of immediate applications in the new production gear and in more futuristic demos and discussions of 5G broadcasting that could transform the media and entertainment landscape over the next five to 10 years.
“Per our annual Broadcast Transformation Report, 5G is being cited by broadcasters as the technology that will have the biggest impact on the broadcasting industry in the next three years,” said Mark Horchler, marketing director of products and solutions at Haivision.
Further down the road, many companies believe that developments in 5G and the new NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 broadcasting standards will create lucrative partnerships between mobile carriers and broadcasters and producers.
“If we can fully utilize the combination of 5G and ATSC 3.0, we can create something very powerful for a new generation of consumers that might combine data, video, AR [augmented reality], live and on-demand video to create new business and new forms of entertainment,” explained Paul Shen, CEO of TVU Networks.
Many of the immediate applications for 5G in production and broadcasting can be seen in the new cameras and production technologies on display. “5G offers creative and cost-efficiency benefits to broadcasters and producers,” said Kento Sayama, deputy vice president, imaging solutions, Sony Electronics, providing producers with opportunities to put cameras in new locations and to rethink the way video is produced.
“The faster speeds and low latency offered by 5G networks help enable real-time connections for remote production, making creators even more mobile when producing content from not only anywhere in the world, but also from more devices,” said Dave Hoffman, business development manager, Americas, Blackmagic Design, which is showing several lines of products taking advantage of faster 5G connectivity.
Attendees can also see a number of advances from vendors such as Comrex, LiveU, Dejero, Haivision, TVU Networks, Broadpeak and others in the area of streaming and delivering video over 5G for production and distribution.
Chris Crump, senior director of sales and marketing at Comrex, stressed not only the advantages of faster 5G networks but the importance of Comrex’s ongoing work in developing technologies that make much better use of the existing spectrum. “The challenges of trying to utilize the commercially available wireless data network, which is overwhelmed by demand, is the impetus for our continued innovation,” he said.
Meanwhile, mobile network operators (MNOs) are working to improve their 5G networks. “On the download side, 5G is the next evolutionary step, expected to be a hundred times faster than 4G,” explained Kevin Fernandes, chief revenue officer of Dejero, which is showing the EnGo 3 mobile transmitter optimized for 5G.
A number of companies, including LiveU, TVU Networks and Rohde & Schwarz, are showing technologies that have been used in demos of 5G Broadcasting.
Recently, LiveU was involved in a trial with Ericsson and Nokia where 5G slices were used to transmit live video at the University of Patras in Greece.
“The area that will likely have the largest impact to users over the next few years are Stand Alone or `SA’ networks, meaning networks that are 5G technology in every component of the network,” said LiveU’s Chief Technology Officer Dan Pisarski.
Using a 5G SA network, T-Mobile recently achieved 3.3 Gbps download speeds to a Samsung phone, creating networks that are both a threat and an opportunity for broadcasters.
“We believe that, over time, the wireless spectrum used by traditional broadcasters will transition toward MNOs [and] … traditional broadcast services will be replaced by data services operated by MNOs,” said Yann Begassat, business development, 5G and Edge at Broadpeak.
Others, however, see enormous possibilities for collaboration between 5G networks and broadcasters deploying NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0. “A vital part of the 5G standard is 5G Broadcast,” explains Thomas Janner, director of R&D, broadcast applications, Rohde & Schwarz.
Rohde & Schwarz is part of a group within ATSC that is working to harmonize the two standards with the practical implementation of 5G Broadcast within ATSC 3.0. “This proposal is a win-win: broadcasters get the opportunity to add valuable new services within their existing ATSC 3.0 transmissions; consumers can access content anywhere, and new revenue opportunities are opened in data transmission,” he said.
5 Things to Know About 5G
- 5G is still in its early stages of development. At the end of 2022 there were only 137 million 5G connections in North America and about 1.1 billion worldwide, according to Omdia; 4G will account for the majority of connections worldwide until 2027 when there will be about 5.7 billion 5G subscriptions.
- While 5G hasn’t lived up to the initial hype, it is already having a major impact on technologies used for streaming, video production, remote production, live news and sports coverage, ENG and other applications that are on display at the show.
- Operators are beginning to rollout much faster 5G Stand Alone or 5G SA networks, with T-Mobile recently demoing a 3.3 Gbps download over a 5G SA network. The 5G standard can handle up to 10 Gbps.
- The deployments of much faster 5G networks will open up opportunities for 5G Broadcasting, create new competition for existing broadband providers that will push them to offer much faster speeds and potentially transform the larger M&E landscape as new content distributors and broadcasters emerge.
- A group within ATSC is working to harmonize the 5G and NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 standards so that broadcasters work closely with mobile operators to deliver new services, such as datacasting, which BIA Advisory Services believes could produce $10.7 billion in new revenue for U.S. broadcasters by 2030.