Broadcasting live TV in the field – whether that’s live news, sporting events or whatever else – can be tricky, as broadcasters don’t have access to the same infrastructure as they’d have in a studio. But 5G could solve that problem, and LiveU – with the help of AT&T – is beginning to trial a solution.
LiveU makes portable video production backpacks which are currently used in the field to transmit footage from where it’s captured back to the relevant studio, over a mix of 4G, Wi-Fi and satellite, but this mix isn’t always ideal. Wi-Fi connections aren’t always available and 4G can suffer from latency and congestion, as well as often not being fast enough.
5G though should suffer from none of those problems, so by equipping these backpacks with 5G then – where 5G coverage is available – they should be able to transmit footage instantly and seamlessly, even in 4K quality and in future potentially even in 8K or virtual reality. That will mean that in turn the footage can get broadcast faster and in higher quality.
Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer at AT&T Business, said: “In a world of 24-hour news cycles, getting breaking news quickly to audiences is imperative.”
“By teaming up with LiveU to trial 5G with their portable HEVC broadcast units, we will learn how we can help broadcasters increase production capabilities and expand possibilities for future innovations - as well as help them create compelling new engagement models with consumers. Just imagine the possibility of broadcasters being able to live stream breaking news in 8K or in an AR/VR 360 format over mobile 5G.”
For now, this trial, which will use AT&T’s 5G network to “test the real-world impact and performance enhancements 5G technology can have on live broadcast video production,” sounds small scale, so we could be a long way off seeing these backpacks in widespread use.
5G broadcasts are already here
But it’s an obvious upgrade, and not the first time companies have explored using 5G for live broadcasts.
EE for example recently broadcast a football match live over 5G, while Red Bee Media has argued that 5G will make it viable to broadcast more live events, a claim that BT Sport seemingly agrees with, as it plans to broadcast more live football matches thanks to 5G-enabled remote production, where previously it needed to bring in broadcast trucks, making smaller matches prohibitively expensive to broadcast.