The Impact of 5G on Broadcasting

Posted March 10, 2022

There’s little doubt over the excitement over emerging video strategies tied to 5G networks.  Zixi’s Eric Bolten has been integral to Zixi’s efforts to support partners such as Bloomberg, Verizon and AWS work to build next generation video backhaul, remote production and distribution workflows on top of high performance 5G networks.  Eric’s complete article in this month’s NewscastStudio release provides insights in to where we are and where we’re headed.

Exactly where we are with 5G as we move into 2022 depends a lot on your perspective. For the consumer it is already here; that is what the advertising tells them and in densely populated urban environments at least they are not wrong. For broadcasters though, the rollout is perhaps taking a bit longer than many initially hoped it would.

This is understandable. The ultimate goal of the providers is to drive massive numbers of consumer subscriptions to which they can then upsell new, 5G-enabled services. And when you have spent almost $70B on the technology, as Verizon has, recouping that investment will always be a focus. That means that the network slicing that we depend on for moving towards 5G contribution at sports stadia for example, is not there yet.

It is coming though. The non-consumer 5G use cases — broadcast, industry 4.0, IoT, and more — are building momentum behind the consumer roll out and when they impact, they will do so significantly.

So, what will we see? For a start, once we have the slicing issues sorted then we will move into a new era of tetherless production. This will probably happen in the sports sector first, with high bandwidth, low latency production enabled within venues, but will also swiftly move into other live events and studio production. It gets really exciting when we move beyond that, and from a news perspective, for example, the potential it has to provide flexibility will be immense. Rather than sending a satellite truck out to a story you will be able to send a single reporter with a smartphone on a selfie stick or a tripod.

You can do this already but 5G raises the stakes considerably. Picture quality will be 4K broadcast, and productions will not be handicapped by satellite latency or lengthy talkback delays. Connections will be instant, feedback will be immediate, AI and ML clip generation in the cloud will work in real-time and automatically send segments to social channels, but perhaps the key differentiator will be that you will see a hitherto unseen, high-quality sheen, to pop-up news production…

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