, ,

Study: 82% of broadcasters say 5G will replace satellite distribution

Next-gen technology will also boost consumption, survey says.

by Steven Impey

Study: 82% of broadcasters say 5G will replace satellite distribution
  • 37% say 5G transition to happen within two years; 10% say more than three years
  • Performance (42%), reliability (26%) and network security (22%) among barriers

A survey of broadcasters has revealed that 82 per cent believe 5G and next generation cellular networks will eventually replace traditional satellite and digital TV (DTV) broadcast distribution methods.

The new research, carried out by Norwegian media production specialist Nevion, also found that almost all of the broadcasters surveyed (94 per cent) agreed that the use of 5G will increase the consumption of content.

Furthermore, 37 per cent of respondents believe that the transition to 5G will take place within the next two years – though ten per cent said that it is unlikely to happen within the next three years.

However, Nevion’s findings also show that 50 per cent of the broadcasters believe there are still several barriers to overcome before 5G is universally available. They include challenges related to network performance, reliability and network security. Some broadcasters also expressed concerns about the environmental impact of 5G.

Andy Rayner, Nevion’s chief technologist, Nevion, said: “5G technology can potentially deliver OTT broadcast services with the quality required not only for mobile devices, but also for TV screens at home. This could mean, as our research uncovered, that 5G is eventually likely to usurp DTT for consumers at home as well as on the move.

“In the long term, it is likely that 5G mobile technology could become the standard means to deliver terrestrial television. However, it is expected that both DTT [direct terrestrial television] and 5G delivery – when ready – will co-exist for a reasonable time.”

As part of its UK rollout, domestic pay-TV network BT Sport became the first broadcaster to complete a 5G-enabled remote production trial, testing out the next generation technology from multiple top-flight English soccer stadia last September. Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge were all used as part of the demonstration.

Similarly, NBC Sports successfully trialled the use of 5G during a live broadcast from the National Football League (NFL) in December, as part of a tie-up with telecommunications company Verizon and US technology giant Sony.

Speaking to SportsPro at the beginning of April, Yiannis Exarchos, the chief executive of Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), said that its 5G trials can now be scaled up for the Tokyo Olympic Games after the event was postponed by a year due the coronavirus pandemic.

Rayner says that 5G is still a relative unknown in terms of its capability, adding: “Ultimately, we are only just scratching the surface of 5G, and although broadcasters already see its potential value, at this stage industry-wide explorations into the technology are ongoing.

“It is too soon to say exactly at which point in the broadcast chain 5G will provide the most value. As such, broadcasters currently delivering with DTT will need to work with experts to follow the evolution of 5G broadcast capability.”