The EBU is ready to embrace a vision for 5G technologies that could raise European industry to the forefront of media technology in the world. With the launch of the 5G Media Action Group (5G-MAG) we have now reached the point where that vision starts to become a reality.
Nearly 30 organizations have signed up to 5G-MAG so far, and the association is holding its first General Assembly on 16 October at EBU Headquarters in Geneva.
Much has been said about the potential for 5G networks to play a central role in media delivery in future. One of the big challenges, however, is to ensure that new 5G features such as broadcast capabilities are supported by network infrastructure and user devices. The vendors require certainty regarding market adoption, which will be driven by the existence of new services that rely on these new 5G features.
If that’s the chicken, then the egg is that the service providers will only invest in such new services if they are sure they can reach the end users. 5G-MAG hopes to foster the simultaneous emergence of both the chicken and the egg.
Although liaison with the relevant standards developing organizations is foreseen, 5G-MAG will retain a primarily commercial focus. Specific objectives will include encouraging the development and commercialization of 5G chipsets and user terminals that support media use cases; or facilitating agreements between content/service providers and terminal suppliers and service distributors. In content production, 5G-MAG will aim to foster the necessary developments for more efficient production workflows.
It looks certain that services based on 5G will initially see the light of day in urban areas, where the biggest commercial opportunities lie for incumbent telecoms operators. However, the media-related applications that are of most interest to broadcasters require reliable wide area network coverage, i.e. close to 100% of the population and 100% of the territory.
And it’s not just media providers that require this level of coverage. Similar requirements come also from the transport sector and PPDR (public protection and disaster relief). 5G-MAG will thus also foster innovative approaches to 5G coverage and promote the use of the convergent, collaborative networks that will be required. An orchestration specification among the different network components will be a key element.
You will hear and read a lot more about 5G-MAG in the coming months. The EBU is proud to be driving the creation of this new association.