5G - the future for radio? | radioinfo

5G - the future for radio?

Wednesday 18 September, 2019
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Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

If there's one thing being talked about a lot over the last year or so, it's 5G. It's a new technology for mobile broadband.

5G is interesting to large public broadcasters because, I think, it's the only platform that can deliver everything that they produce: radio, TV and online; both live and on-demand. So, for a public service broadcaster, it's an important thing to be experimenting with.

But what's the deal with 5G?

At its heart, it's a fast internet connection that can replace 3G and 4G for mobile phones, but it has much higher capacity and could also, potentially, replace broadband connections at home as well.

It has one thing in it that could potentially be useful for broadcasters: 5G Broadcast. If you have a thousand people listening to your live radio station online, that normally means a thousand connections to your streaming server, and a thousand sets of audio data being sent over the internet. With 5G Broadcast, it means just one: because it uses broadcast technology to get your signal to your audience. That makes it more resilient, and better for the network.

4G has this too. The difference with 5G is that shared 5G Broadcast can be run by the broadcaster, rather than by each network operator: because unlike now, 5G Broadcast doesn't need a SIM card, and different mobile phone customers can connect to it.

And it works for radio and for TV.

There have also been tests to move people from a normal internet stream to a 5G Broadcast stream automatically. So if the football match comes on, and everyone wants to watch it, the network could automatically switch from a normal internet stream over to 5G Broadcast, to make for a better experience.

It could theoretically replace a network of radio or TV transmitters. It could replace satellite TV broadcasting, or cable networks.
 

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So from a technology point of view, it's quite interesting for larger broadcasters.

However, in reality: the spectrum has already been sold to the mobile companies. They would want to charge broadcasters for access to it. If 5G Broadcast uses 10% of the available spectrum, let's say, then that's effectively 10% of the mobile companies' income that needs to be passed on to the broadcasters as costs. And the costs of installing the tens of thousands of base stations to make all this work.

5G Broadcast is also not built into 5G phones as standard. So mobile operators would need to get the phone manufacturers to do that. Their charging structure is based on data usage, so it's difficult to understand why they would want to put something into mobile phones that reduces the amount of money they can make from selling data.

And the advance that 5G Broadcast gives is limited to live broadcasting. It doesn't offer anything extra for on-demand other than a connection with bigger capacity.

So is 5G the future?

From a technology standpoint, it is clearly exciting. But in the real world, it seems to me that there are many questions that we don't yet have the answer to. Broadcasters already have a great way of reaching audiences through internet, FM or DAB+; and unlike 5G, our use of the normal, public internet offers benefits for everyone, whatever technology they use.

So my suggestion is to keep watching 5G, but focus on our existing broadcast infrastructure. FM works great for many; and DAB+ offers an exciting future.

 

About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.

 

 

 

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3 Comments

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Richard Morris
19 September 2019 - 10:01pm
Just back from IBC - where we heard about the high power German trial with 5G as a replacement for TV - and the low power trial in Scotland with 5G as a future replacement for DAB. I agree 5G broadcast is many years away as a consumer proposition. The question I have is this - do the network operators have as much power as they used to have over the feature set of mobile phones? Does anyone have any figures for the quantity of phones that are curently sold "sim free" or "dual sim" ? However I also agree there are many hurdles to getting compatible mobile phones built - it's not just the network operators who might wish to block this. Apple will presumably also be reluctant to add free to air TV/ radio to an iphone.
Anthony The Koala
20 September 2019 - 4:47am
I felt to comment on Mr Ahern's article on the definition of broadcasting on the internet, in the article at https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/alston-determination-defining-broadcasting-services-extended .

The article suggested that the regulation defining broadcast a broadcast excludes point-to-point communications as defined in the definitions section s6 "broadcasting service" subsection (b) of the Broadcast Services Act (Cth), http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/bsa1992214/s6.html. The article also included reference to subsection (c) can define or extend the meaning broadcastcasting because the current state of point-to-point communication does not require audio and video-on-demand services to adhere to standards required of broadcasters, for example Australian content.

Audio-on-demand and video-on-demand definitely fall into the exclusion of broadcast. But how does one apply or extend the definition to broadcasting to audio and/or video on demand? The current method of delivering IP streams from source to consumer is the client-server method of delivery. That means the content provider's servers have to make provision for handling many client-server relations.

For one-off ad-hoc transmission of video and/or audio streams, the process would definitely fall into the exclusion of the definition of broadcasting under s6 of the Act. BUT if there is a one-off event of audio and/or video streaming, the number of client-server relations are required. If the video and/or audio IP streams under a client-server model are delivered almost simultaneously, then it has the effect of broadcasting even though it does not fall legally into the definition of broadcasting under the Act or the Minister does not expand/define the definition under subsection (c) of the Act.

Given Mr Cridland's article on the 5G and the new technology of broadcasting streams instead of client-server relations, would fall under the Act because the content provider has "....equipment appropriate for receiving that service, whether the delivery uses the radiofrequency spectrum, cable, optical fibre, satellite or any other means or a combination of those means....."

It follows that if 5G can deliver content in a 'broadcast' method instead of a client-server relation, the content provider would have to abide by the regulation. For the traditional client-server model of content delivery, the definition of broadcast would need to be clarified by the Minister as to the timing of delivery of several client-server connections; how to define when the number and timing of client-server connections occur, whether the content is the same for all client-servers and the frequency of the offering of the particular video and/or audio stream. For the latter, the frequency of the offering of the particular video and/or audio stream could be a 'one-off' like a sporting match or other live coverage. For repeat transmission of content via a client-server connection, it is a repeat of the same content at a scheduled time. In other words, the content is scheduled rather than randomly accessed by the user in the case of video and/or audio on demand.

In sum, content providers under the 5G technology would come under the definition of broadcast while the Minister needs to clarify the definition of broadcast under s6 "broadcasting service" subsection (c) especially where video and/or audio on demand is scheduled at a particular time or times.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield
Anthony The Koala
25 September 2019 - 2:09am
While what I said about the definition of broadcasting needs further clarification by the Minister under s6(c) of the Act still holds. I want to make it clear.

Reiterating that content provider providing for many client-server streams does not come under the definition of broadcast under the Act. The significance mentioned in Mr Ahern's article means that transmitting client-server streams does not have to adhere to broadcast standards.

I have not fully enumerated the definition of broadcasting. I mentioned that if there is a transmission of a particular event such as a sporting match, the effect of the content provider providing many client-servant streams at the same time is effectively a broadcast. Similarly, a content provider such as a radio or TV station transmitting audio and/or video content via a client-server IP stream at the same time as the broadcasting over the air is effectively a broadcast over the internet even though legally it is not broadcasting over the internet.

More discussion needed on what the Minister needs to extend the definition of broadcasting OR by a amendment to the legislation in order that content providers adhere to standards such as providing a certain percentage of Australian content.

I may have been unclear on ad-hoc transmissions of content over an IP stream using a client-server model. Under a "proposed" amended definition of broadcast, I would not include people or entities who like to podcast their audio and/or video content. Nor would it include Youtube or other social media content, unless it is a Australian content provider continuously transmitting audio and/or video and provides several server-client streams. A transmission from an overseas content provider cannot be required to adhere to Australian standards.

Consequently should internet-only radio or TV stations be legally defined as a broadcasting such as internet-only radio station new2uw, http://www.new2uw.com/ ? In addition should if server-client streams are the method of transmission of content, under the extended definition of broadcast under the Act, should the definition of broadcast be extended to include the number server-clients?

So, if an entity uses 5G broadcast technology, the entity is legally defined as a broadcaster. For server-client IP streams, either the definition extended or modified by the Minister or a legislative amendment may be required. Factors to consider are (i) the number of server-client streams, (ii) the simultaneous transmission of the IP stream with the 'broadcast', (iii) the continuity of the transmission of content without random access to programs, (iv) that audio and/or video podcasters who don't continually transmit be exempt from broadcasting.

While it is fine for Australian content providers it won't cover transmissions from outside Australia, broadcasting or IP streams.

Thank you,
Anthony from really exciting Belfield
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