Experts from the 5G-EMERGE consortium, gathering in Turin last week, agreed a baseline system design to enhance online media delivery with satellite-enabled edges. This EBU-led project, co-funded by the European Space Agency, is making use of 5G technologies to achieve convergence.

The aim is to bring data-intensive mass media closer to the end user to improve their content playout experience – using satellite networks and service deployments that conform to 5G specifications. This approach reduces network congestion and provides a more resilient delivery ecosystem.

The emerging ecosystem is a native-IP hybrid infrastructure, based on open standards. The infrastructure is designed to, independently from the delivery channel (satellite, terrestrial, etc.), transparently, sustainably and reliably get content to the end user. It addresses not only 5G mobile networks but also targets edges – effectively smart satellite gateways – in other network headends, home networks and in vehicles.

Test beds

Last week's meeting, hosted by the Italian public broadcaster Rai, represented an important milestone for the project. Having agreed the system definition the participants can now move forward with designing and testing the components that will make up the ecosystem. In its initial phase, the project – launched in June 2022 – will establish five test beds throughout Europe. Three different satellite networks (on the Ku and Ka bands) will be used to validate the ecosystem in three different use-case classes: direct to home, direct to vehicle, and direct to edge.

From a business perspective, the 5G-EMERGE ecosystem will tap into the existing media CDN and caching market, with satellite-enhanced edge services. These edges will host content and edge functionalities close to the end users. The project's key performance indicators are increased efficiency and performance while reducing costs. Improving delivery-network resilience is another strategic goal important for the EBU membership.

Adopting a common IP overlay distribution strategy will deliver economies of scale across the value chain. At the same time, the project's software-as-as-service model allows introduction of new functionalities, either media-oriented like personalization or non-media services like game software updates. End-users do not have to install special software or fiddle with settings to make use of the functionalities as these are integrated in the backend.

Kicked off in June 2022, 5G-EMERGE is led by the EBU and co-funded by ESA under its ARTES programme. The other members of the consortium actively contributing to the project are: SES, Rai, Arthur D. Little, LINKS Fondazione, ROMARS, SixSq, Telenor ASA, Telenor Maritime, Telenor Satellite, G-Core, Varnish Software, TNO, NAGRA, Inverto, MBI, Artic Space, Athonet, Celestia, Viasat.

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