The BBC & 5G


5G, it’s the next generation
of mobile internet. As you’d expect with an upgrade we’ll get
faster speeds, much faster speeds, but what’s really exciting about
5G is its other features, which combine to enable new future
experiences and services. Firstly, it has a super low latency
of less than a millisecond, meaning the delay between sending
and reacting to information is now almost real time and is
even faster than us humble humans. This could pave the way for self
driving cars, remote robotics, mobile VR, gaming. Anything that
needs an immediate real-time reaction. On top of this 5G also
has a much bigger capacity than 4G meaning it can handle many more connected devices in one
area. Hello, internet of things! As always with new tech there’s a
lot of hype, full roll out is years away and standards of how all this will
work are still being figured out. And what’s this got to do
with broadcasting, and what is the BBC doing. Let’s find out. My name is Georgie Challinor and I
work in digital strategy at the BBC and I’ve been involved in thinking
about what 5G might mean for us. One day we believe that all content
will be delivered over the internet and the internet can deliver much
richer experiences to audiences. As well as this the increasing use
of smartphones means more content is consumed out of the home and on
the move. So there are two main issues with existing mobile internet
at the moment. One is capacity, which means that it can’t handle the
volumes of traffic that we want to put over the internet out of the home and
the second one is coverage. The BBC requires universal availability of
our content and services. With our R&D team, we’re working on some of
the UK Government sponsored 5G trials, we’re hoping that 5G might
be able to meet these challenges. So 5G could become a new
broadcast platform for the BBC, but there’s lots of work
to do to make that happen. As part of the 5G Rural First
consortium we’ve been working in the Orkney Islands to look at how
5G technology might be used in the future to deliver radio services
to people. So the feedback from the trialists has been overwhelmingly
positive. What we’re thinking about now is how we might scale that trial up.
That’s key to our interest in 5G, really. It’s about
trying to make sure that everyone has access to these new services.
So 5G could help us reach our audiences better, but could it also
enable new types of experiences? I think one of the really exciting
things about the potential of the 5G network is to enable highly
personalised end user experiences, especially potential in storytelling.
We made an augmented reality experience at the Roman baths in Bath
and the idea was that you could get a little window into how they looked at
different points in time. The thing that makes 5G so interesting is
we can have these rich data heavy experiences. I think there’s a lot
of things that we can do we just have to invent it and we can do that
without the constraints of worrying about, well is the tech gonna stop
us because I think in this case the tech just allows us to do so much more.
So 5G could give our Producers new creative ideas, but could
it also change the way we make content? What we’re thinking about is well,
what if we have cameras that are connected via 5G. What does
that start to enable, what are some of the workflows that we can get if
we’ve got very high bandwidth, Very low latency kit for News, low
cost lives, for sports, for music festivals, we may be able to cover things
that we just can’t simply afford to cover now. There’s a number of areas of
5G that will enable us to do that. One of which is the greater
bandwidth, so we can get higher quality video signals down without
as much compression. Secondly, latency, predictable agency. So if
we have two cameras we need to make sure that when we cut from
one to the other, that actually works and there’s no jump. One
of the challenges we have is that this space is very much owned
by the telecoms industry. So, BBC R&D are taking a leading
role in making sure that the standards bodies actually hear the
requirements for public service media. Working with our colleagues
in the European Broadcasting Union as well as colleagues from around
the world, and if we are going to continue broadcasting content of high quality
to our audiences we need to make sure that the telecoms industry
really understand our workflows. So there we have it. 5G could enable
the BBC to reach more audiences, improve the way it makes content
and do something creatively new.

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