BBC and BT in UK’s first live 5G production trial

The BBC and BT have successfully made the UK’s first live TV contribution over a public 5G connection, using EE’s 5G network. This is the first time a public 5G network has been used by a production team for a live TV program, and demonstrates the potential that 5G has in broadcast production.

Over time, internet will play an increasingly important role in all aspects of broadcasting – from production scenarios like this, to the way content is distributed and ultimately enjoyed by people wherever they are. Live outside contributions form a major part of news, current affairs, sports, and a range of other programs. They can be sent back to production studios in a variety of ways, including existing 4G networks. 4G network links require multiple connections to provide the capacity to carry the live video feeds. In this 5G trial, only one connection was needed, reducing both the complexity and cost of production. To make the trial possible, specialized 5G modems were connected to BBC News cameras to take advantage of the new 5G network. The trial also allowed the teams to explore different encoding options to compress the video, allowing it to be sent back to New Broadcasting House, and decompressing it for live playout.

In addition to production trials, the BBC is also currently running a trial delivering live BBC radio over 5G in Orkney, exploring how the technology might bring BBC programs and services to audiences in rural areas. Another recent trial explored how data-rich content like augmented reality could be delivered over 5G to audiences in the future.

Matthew Postgate
Chief Technology and Product Officer,
BBC

“This is an excellent example of how BBC experiments with cutting-edge technology to improve how we make programs. 5G is a hugely interesting area for us to explore, with potential to reduce the cost and complexity of outside broadcasts, and as a way of delivering content to audiences in the future. The internet will play a bigger role in broadcasting and we’re pioneering the techniques, standards, and ways of working to truly take advantage of it.”

Alex Tempest
Managing Director, Wholesale,
BT

“We are delighted to demonstrate the power and innovation that 5G can bring to the media and broadcasting industry through our trial with the BBC. Whether on the street, in a stadium, or on location, 5G provides a new dimension that can deliver the speed, efficiency, and reliability that outside broadcasting requires, and gives broadcasters the ability to deploy equipment quickly and with ease, without having to worry about the connection.”

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