5G deployments around the world are heating up, opening up new opportunities for broadcast professionals on the go. Enabling huge bandwidths, low latency, and other advanced capabilities, 5G is helping service providers, broadcasters, and broadcast professionals satisfy the growing consumer appetite for high-quality video content and drive revenue.
5G’s Promise to Improve Video Quality
5G will significantly impact live production for sports and news applications, empowering broadcasters to deliver superior video quality, with improved reliability and lower latency.
The low-latency capabilities of 5G will be a game changer for live sports production. Currently, with the 4G/LTE technology, there are a few seconds delay between the capture and the reception of the live videos which will be then edited. This makes it challenging to use 4G/LTE networks with multiple cameras for live sports production. 5G technology and the recent improvements AVIWEST made on video compression algorithms reduce the end-to-end transmission latency to 200 milliseconds or less. This reduced delay from the live source to the video production is a huge advancement.
Major sports events are already using a combination of fixed and wireless cameras to deliver multiple camera views. These mixes of wired and wireless production solutions use different technologies (some of them are quite old and are not IP-based, such as OFDM/microwave transmitters, satellite transmission, etc.) and are very complex to manage. Typically, a large sports event requires a comprehensive architecture that must be managed and maintained during the live production. Replacing these complex architectures with full 5G mobile and wireless cameras drastically simplifies the live production and improves flexibility and scalability. In addition to that, it is also much cheaper than using traditional production solutions.
How 5G Will Simplify Content Production and Contribution
From a video workflow perspective, 5G will greatly streamline production and contribution, while also providing media professionals with a substantial cost savings. A common challenge with broadcasting on the go is the lack of available wired infrastructure. For years broadcasters have relied on fleets of remote newsgathering vehicles for live production and contribution. The alternative is to set up a fibre-based infrastructure in a stadium or event venue. Either way, there is a high cost and time commitment involved.
Using 5G, broadcasters and other media professionals can quickly set up a high-capacity wireless link for live production and contribution. By deploying 5G wireless cameras in a stadium environment, broadcasters can remotely control zoom to pan from the studio without requiring any type of local presence except during installation.
Non-public networking (NPN) will be a great opportunity for broadcasters to benefit from the 5G technology in private or semi-private areas without any bandwidth constraint or network congestion. This will soon be the case in big venues with the replacement of non-reliable WiFi networks with a dedicated 5G NPN that the broadcaster will use to manage their live production.
Ultimately, 5G enables broadcasters and other media professionals to produce high-quality live content with fewer people, less cameras, and a less complex architecture. While broadcasters have traditionally required a team of 10 or more experienced professionals onsite to manage a live video production, 5G makes it possible to remotely manage the production leveraging remote wireless 5G cameras.
The road to 5G production and contribution won’t be without challenges. Broadcasters and other media professionals will need to adopt IP technologies over traditional SDI. But the benefits are worth it. Migrating to 5G and IP, broadcasters can gain increased agility, cost savings and operational efficiencies.
What’s Next for 5G?
5G promises to improve video quality, reduce latency, and simplify video production and contribution in the near term. During the next phase of 5G, additional advancements will become available. Network slicing will enable media professionals to operate their own network in critical environments or locations, such as stadiums and event spaces. With network slicing, broadcasters can reserve a portion of bandwidth for usage during inside the venue of a concert or sports game to ensure high-quality live video streaming, even when there is network congestion on the public network.
Another unique capability of 5G is multiple access edge computing (MEC), which is essentially a tiny cloud data centre that resides at the edge of the network close to the end user. Pushing certain computing tasks such as analysis, processing, and storage to the edge of the network will allow broadcasters to reduce latency and optimise real-time performance for high-bandwidth applications. MEC is expected to play a critical role in live production and contribution in the future.
5G Success in the Real World
5G trials are currently underway by many of the world’s leading telco operators. Spanish broadcaster Telefónica recently launched a 5G trial with AVIWEST to test out 5G remote production capabilities. As part of the trial, Telefónica’s Movistar+ television network offered the world’s first full 5G live coverage of a basketball event during the 2021 Copa del Rey basketball tournament.
Using an advanced 5G encoder, Telefónica successfully streamed broadcast-grade live video with greater efficiency, flexibility and lower costs than what is typically achievable, increasing the viability of live TV for all types of events. The project was promoted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation through Red.es.
Telefónica is just one example of how service providers, broadcasters, and broadcast professionals can use 5G. The opportunities for live sports are limitless. For example, broadcasters can embed multiple remote wireless 5G cameras on a motor car to transmit multiple camera views and real-time data. Major car racing leagues such as Formula 1 are leveraging 5G cameras to provide viewers with multiple points of view and additional video content to enable a more immersive experience.
Utilising wireless 5G cameras can be complex. The camera needs to be as small as possible; however, 5G promises to drive the industry forward by providing higher speeds and more reliable connectivity.
Live video can be powerful. It connects people to their favourite sports teams and helps them stay on top of the latest news. The challenge is that consumers today expect exceptionally high quality and immersive video experiences.
5G is an exciting development for the media and entertainment market that will set a new standard for live video production and live streaming experiences. Aside from improving the quality of the end user experience, 5G will simplify video production and contribution workflows, reducing costs and allowing broadcast professionals to work remotely from anywhere in the world. All they’ll need is a good 5G connection and the latest 5G newsgathering equipment.