Ian Wagdin (BBC)
You cannot have failed to hear about the latest generation of mobile technologies labelled 5G. It has the potential to have a significant impact on all areas of our lives with promises of high speed, high quality, always-on connectivity.
As with any technology that improves how we may make content, there is significant interest in how it may be deployed from a wide range of EBU Members, so it is important for us to understand and, where possible, seek to influence its capabilities and when it may be practically deployed.
In May 2018, a group of EBU Members, partners, suppliers and other interested parties got together to form a working group on 5G in Content Production (5GCP). At the same time the standards body that oversees mobile technologies (3GPP) launched a study as to the requirements of Audio and Video Production alongside several other studies into other industry use cases. The aim is to identify how 5G may be updated in future releases to best meet the requirements of the industry. The 5GCP group is the main contributor to this study, coordinating input from across the industry.
The mobile communications world is a rapidly changing one and can be described as more evolutionary than revolutionary. It is likely that solutions will appear to replace current cellular bonding technologies deployed on 3G and 4G networks even if we do nothing. These work well for single camera news contribution but 5G has the potential to deliver more ambitious solutions that may enable the deployment of multicamera, remotely-operated outside broadcasts as well as the potential to transform our use of radio mics and in-ear monitors in the audio domain. Helping the mobile telecoms industry understand what we do and how we do it means showing that production of a broadcast is far more than a “one-way video call”.
As the broadcast industry adopts more IP-based workflows, connectivity that meets our requirements becomes increasingly important. It is therefore very important that we work with key mobile connectivity technologies to ensure that our requirements are understood and implemented in a manner that supports production workflows.
DEMANDING USE CASES
Pairing the potential of the technology with the threat of spectrum currently in use by broadcasters and production teams being eaten up by future 5G deployments has formed the backbone of the work of the 5GCP group. We have worked to identify how UHD content may be carried at high quality, the very demanding latency requirements of audio workflows and even how the technology may be deployed to cover events over a wide geographical area, such as a cycle race or marathon.
The Audio and Video Production study in 3GPP is in progress and we should see more capabilities, that meet some of our more demanding use cases, defined in future 3GPP releases. In a few years’ time it may be possible to not only replace existing radio links used in production but to enable more flexibility, reliability and mobility in how we produce content.
Participation in the EBU 5G in Content Production Group is open to EBU Members and other interested participants. Ian Wagdin chairs the group and, in this context, he spoke about 5G in Production Workflows at the Production Technology Seminar 2019.
The above article was first published in issue 39 of tech-i magazine.