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Private 5G network delivers live international coverage of Queen’s final departure from Scotland

OB company QTV used the private 5G network had been trialled and proven viable for broadcast use cases as part of IBC’s Accelerator Media Innovation Programme

QTV, a Glasgow-based outside broadcasting company, deployed private 5G network technology to connect cameras used in the international broadcast coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s final departure from Scotland.

The private 5G network was designed and deployed by the University of Strathclyde and its spin-out company, Neutral Wireless Ltd, and developed via a series proof-of-concept trials in 2022 as part of IBC’s Accelerator Media Innovation Programme.

The Neutral Wireless pop-up 5G SA network was deployed for QTV within 24 hours of the spectrum licence in the radio frequency band n77 (3.8GHz – 4.2GHz) being granted by Ofcom. The use of such a private 5G SA network at an airport is believed to be a world’s first.

QTV worked closely with national broadcasters on the project, dubbed Operation Unicorn, providing a world feed to television channels globally, including content captured over the private 5G network.

Jack McGill, CEO of QTV, said: “The decision to deploy such a radically new solution came about at the IBC show in Amsterdam less than 48 hours ahead of the events of September 13th. Indeed, it is because of IBC’s Accelerator programme that 5G has been so robustly trialled – including our own involvement in that process – and we had every confidence that it had reached maturity for live deployment on one of the UK’s most significant ever live events.”

The outside broadcast at Edinburgh Airport was also supported by Open Broadcast Systems and Zixi, with the former providing encoders and decoders, and Zixi providing licences to use the software Defined Video Platform, Zen Master Control Plane and protocol over 5G at short notice.

“Due to the scale of the production in Scotland – and indeed the whole of the United Kingdom – technical resources were stretched beyond capacity,” added Gareth Gordon, CTO at CTV. “This small but significant site was left without any traditional RF systems for positions that could not be cabled. The situation demanded new and innovative technological thinking to achieve the expectations of the production.

“From the band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland to the RAF’s C-17 Globemaster taking off and carrying Her Late Majesty The Queen from Scotland for the last time, these were breath-taking live pictures broadcast globally from the airport tarmac. The video link on the 5G network wasn’t there as a back-up – it was a live feed to the world.”