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BT trials the UK’s first live TV production with 5G

Using BT’s EE network, the BBC complete UK’s first live 5G production trial

On BBC Breakfast last week, viewers will have seen BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones cover the launch of the UK’s first 5G network from Covent Garden. But what they won’t have seen is that the segment was also beamed back to the BBC’s New Broadcasting House over the very same 5G network to be played out live in the show.

This is the first time a public 5G network has been used by a production team for a live TV programme, and demonstrates the potential that 5G has in broadcast production. Over time the 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.

To make the trial possible, specialised 5G modems were connected to the news cameras to take advantage of EE’s new 5G network. The trial also allowed the teams to explore different encoding options to compress the video, allowing it to be sent back for live playout.

With 5G boasting superior bandwidth and speed, as well as massively reduced latency, it has the technical capabilities needed to carry the data loads that broadcast relies on. This will allow production processes to be streamlined, with footage transmitted directly from location to a central hub.

Footage can be sent back to production studios in a variety of ways, including existing 4G networks. 4G network links require multiple connections to be patched together to provide the capacity to carry the live video feeds. Over 5G only one connection was needed, reducing both the complexity and the cost of the production for the BBC.

Alex Tempest, Managing Director, Wholesale at BT said “We are delighted to demonstrate the power and innovation that 5G can bring to the media and broadcasting industry through this trial. 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 it gives broadcasters the ability to deploy equipment quickly and with ease, without having to worry about the connection.”

BT’s Media and Broadcast business serves more than 500 media production and distribution customers around the world, carrying up to 16,000 hours of content a day through BT Tower. As well as being the backbone of all UK TV services, BT distributes TV channels for companies like NBC Universal and Viacom. 

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