The EBU has signed an agreement with ESA, the European Space Agency, to work together on developing solutions that leverage 5G systems and so-called ‘edgecasting’ to put Europe at the vanguard of media delivery technology.

European citizens and industry alike will benefit from smarter and more efficient media delivery through the link-up of satellite communication systems with land-based 5G connectivity.

The deal is good news for television fans, gamers and future metaverse users, as it could lay the groundwork for better access to high-quality video, game and XR experiences live and uninterrupted from anywhere – at home and on the move.

The aim of the project, titled 5G-EMERGE, is to develop an integrated satellite and terrestrial system based on open standards to enable high-quality content distribution services. Telecommunications satellites will be used to efficiently deliver high-demand content, including streaming of live events, as close as possible to the end user – to the ‘edge’. This could be in neighbourhood base stations or even in the users' homes or vehicles. At these network edges, a smart satellite gateway will be able to connect to a regular smartphone, a tablet or a TV set.

“Together we will build a solution that combines all satellite and terrestrial IP-based network infrastructures, guaranteeing sustainability and quality of service,” said Antonio Arcidiacono, Director of Technology & Innovation at the EBU. “It also guarantees that the network will cover 100% of the population, no matter where they are located. This is a critical requirement for public service media organizations.”

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said “It is crucial for Europe to protect and enhance its autonomy when it comes to media and communications infrastructure. The 5G-EMERGE project will support the digital transformation of European society, enabling new applications and services.”

A consortium of 20 companies from Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland will collaborate on developing the distributed edge technology and service-delivery features along with other necessary enhancements that comply to international standards. The EBU will lead the project, which is funded by ESA.

The agreement was signed by Antonio Arcidiacono, for the EBU, Jean-Pierre Choffray of satellite operator SES, Matteo Ainardi of consultants Arthur D Little, and – for ESA – Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, and Maria Guta, Strategic Programme Line Space for 5G/6G and 5G-EMERGE ESA Programme Manager.

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