Mauro D’Onofrio, Head of Innovation & Research, Rai Way

Our project, born from a programme funded by the Italian public administration (MIMIT), had the objective of testing innovative audiovisual content production and distribution using 5G Broadcast and broadband technology.

In the field of content distribution, the combination of 5G Broadcast and CDN (content delivery network) technologies was tested to optimize linear broadcast and broadband content distribution. A 5G Broadcast network covering the cities of Turin and Palermo with a 5 MHz channel in the 700 MHz SDL (supplementary downlink) band was realized, fed by a CDN delivering the same content as the broadcast network. A 5G Broadcast SDR (software-defined radio) prototype receiver was developed, implementing seamless switching between broadcast and broadband delivery to maximize the performance of the combined network, switching to the good one in case of a fault or S/N (signal to noise) degradation of the other, and offering an optimal user experience.

Live VR360°

In Palermo’s Massimo Theatre, live 360° virtual reality signals were produced and transmitted to Rome to be fed into a CDN and a 5G Broadcast core network, to be finally distributed via 5G Broadcast in Palermo. The 5G Broadcast VR360° signal was received by a fixed UHF antenna and an SDR prototype receiver, to be finally retransmitted via Wi-Fi 6 to VR headsets with a high QoE (quality of experience). Reception was demonstrated both in a conference room at the Massimo Theatre, where invited participants were present, and at a Palermo school, Convitto Nazionale Falcone, where many students were present with their professors. A similar use case was realized at the Modern Art Gallery in Turin.

Live automotive

For the automotive use case, the prototype receiver was integrated in the infotainment system of Kinecar, a highly connected minicar, to allow car-mounted vehicular reception, driving with a good QoE along the streets of Palermo and Turin.

The multimedia live content of the Italian broadcasters Rai, Antenna Sicilia and RETESETTE were used to feed the 5G Broadcast and broadband networks to reach the vehicle infotainment system and, via Wi-Fi, mobile commercial devices used by the passenger (smartphones and tablets).

5G jazz jam session

In the field of content production, the project exploited 5G private network technology to support distributed and remote television production of live events. The main objective was to reduce
the latency of a private 5G network and audio/video digital encoding systems (some tens of milliseconds), so that a jazz band, with some components in distant places, could play a jam session together. At the same time, the network had to guarantee signals of adequate quality to the remote control room for live broadcasting on television channels.

In the context of the Torino Jazz Festival 2023, a jazz improvisation by a 16-person big band was shown, where the musicians, in addition to playing on stage, took turns in the different remote areas. Using the content generated from this live performance, we put in place different experiences: on smartphones and tablets, in the metaverse with headsets, and live for an audience enjoying the show.

We are pleased to have demonstrated the potential of the Rai Way’s high-power, high- tower network for delivering 5G Broadcast signals in collaboration with broadband networks, reaching high efficiency and high QoE for live events enjoyed by a large number of connected users. We have created synergies between innovative audiovisual production, contribution and distribution networks, implementing immersive and engaging live artistic content, even in teaching scenarios.

We’re grateful to MIMIT for the opportunity to participate in the 5G Audiovisual 2022 tender, and to our project partners – especially Rai – that have enabled us to achieve such a fine result.

09_RaiWay logos.JPG

This project was a runner-up in the EBU Technology & Innovation Award 2023. This article first appeared in issue 57 of EBU tech-i magazine.

Latest news