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Saracens match underlines the potential for 5G


Broadcasters glimpsed the future at a recent rugby match between Saracens and Northampton Saints, screened using a private 5G network and cloud-based technologies.

Media & Broadcast (M&B), working closely with BT Sport, EE and Applied Research, made it happen with high performance networking, 5G and cloud. The trial - a UK first - used M&B’s new Vena network and demonstrated how 5G can deliver key matchday camera connectivity wirelessly in broadcast-grade quality.

How the trial played out

The 5G network was set up in the stadium on the N77 shared spectrum - which allowed complete control of the radio path for broadcast TV signals. 


With a 5G private network, it’s easy to broadcast wirelessly from different cameras and locations. Because the network is private, there’s no risk of a drop in broadcast quality. 


The N77 shared spectrum was used to ensure guaranteed quality of service for both uplink and downlink. 


5G-enabled cameras were connected to a private 5G network carrying signals to an on-site production truck controlled from the Remote Operating Centre (ROC) at High Wycombe. 


Traditionally, cameras are connected to outside broadcast facilities using radio frequency signals relying on proprietary equipment. 


With 5G, a range of cameras in a wide variety of locations can be used, opening up a host of new broadcasting opportunities. 


At the Saracens match, two wireless cameras moved up and down the touchline. This formed part of a successful experiment to see how wireless camera technology could be employed in live sport. 


While the match unfolded, M&B customers at Saracens' StoneX Stadium experienced 5G broadcasting from the sidelines and also enjoyed a cloud production demonstration.

Diagram showing how a 5G private network was used to broadcast a live rugby game

Reaping the rewards of using 5G

The Saracens trial showed how 5G can offer major improvements to live broadcasts. 


A private 5G network provides dedicated access - avoiding the need to share bandwidth with a public network, with the quality and reliability problems that can cause. 


It’s also easier to broadcast wirelessly from multiple cameras. Additional features include a return path back from the network, offering functionalities such as talkback, camera control and monitoring - which aren’t available with traditional radio frequency solutions. 


The result is that all the wireless technology is based around a single platform. 


This experiment showed how key matchday cameras can be enabled to showcase the powerful broadcasting benefits of 5G and cloud-based technologies. 


It also highlighted the considerable potential of M&B’s new Vena smart broadcast network and cloud technology in live sports coverage. 


M&B is excited about the future of 5G in both sports and other areas of broadcasting. 


As 5G becomes more widely used, further commercial opportunities are likely to arise. Trials like the one at Saracens are an essential part of an exciting onward journey and represent another key step forward in the drive to shape the future of broadcasting. 


That’s why M&B will continue to develop 5G as part of our outside broadcast portfolio and to offer it as an end-to-end service to broadcast.

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