21st Jun 2017

Some of the largest operators, such as Nokia, Intel and Ericsson, have lately been extolling the virtues of the approaching fifth-gen cell network – 5G – as a game-changer in the industry.

Experts have been saying all the right things in advance of a worldwide agreement on the upgrade of 4G – to quote a couple, ‘5G can usefully be ‘all things to all people’ without significant compromise. This is one of its clear advantages,’ and, ‘[5G will] enable new experiences across a variety of industries and categories including automotive, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, homes, buildings, factories, cities and infrastructure.’

However, another expert feels that there is little in the way of the establishment of ‘sold business cases to justify the significant investment required’ by operators, developers or indeed handset manufacturers.

5G is more than just mobile for media and entertainment

With much discussion surrounding the subject of 5G, and (in particular) its effect on the media and entertainment sector, it is becoming more obvious that 5G is much more than mobile, encompassing also contribution and distribution, and defining long-term capabilities of 5G as a replacement for digital terrestrial TV.

Industry professionals realise that convergence of all technology for TV and video delivery (in addition to radio and audio to a certain extent), rather than the use of differing formats is the way forward to streamline data flows with an end-to-end approach.

An interesting point has been raised about the viability of the 8K network, as it is believed that even 4K is limited by content. One expert pointed out that an average of just 10% of video captured at a live event is distributed. He believes that more important than monetisation is the ability to deliver more live video content, which when delivered over 5G following a transition to remote production architectures and IP, will allow far more content, from existing in-event assets, to be monetised anyway.

Global operators upgrading 4G

Operators around the world are currently working towards the 5G concept as they upgrade and update elements of 4G, which industry professionals realise will be a different process than the one that saw the migration of 3G to 4G.

This spells out to the industry, quite clearly, that investment in 4G is both inevitable and necessary to continue the process of evolution from 4G to 5G.

The preparation for 5G, according to the generally-accepted industry view, will involve content production and development, which will be driven by higher bandwidths and more capable devices. While some suspect that current video production will be produced with mobile at the forefront, others believe that increased quality and speed will mean that content can still be produced for ‘the big screen’, as the new speeds will deliver it, and additional HD and UHD profiles will be accessible to mobile.

There is little doubt that 5G will live up to its promise of revolutionising an ‘entire ecosystem of connected devices,’ with an expected roll-out date of 2020, but we can expect to see a few updated versions of 4G well before that.

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