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Germany launches 5G broadcasting trial


The 5G TODAY project has kicked off a field trial for TV broadcasting via 5G in Germany.

The Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation (Bayerischer Rundfunk, BR), the Broadcast Technology Institute IRT, Kathrein, Rohde & Schwarz and Telefónica Germany are jointly testing 5G for TV broadcasting.

The large-area 5G field trial in the Bavarian alpine region is covered by two high-performance transmitters located in Ismaning and at the top of the Wendelstein mountain. Both operate with 100 kilowatts effective output power (ERP).

Overlay infrastructure

The project will test how 5G broadcasting can be used to create an 'overlay infrastructure’ that can simultaneously serve millions of future 5G mobile devices. The aim is to deliver content without overburdening mobile networks or increasing costs for consumers.

5G broadcasting differs from livestreaming in that it sends a single version of a programme out over a wide area, which anybody in range can receive. With livestreaming,  the same programme is sent individually to every person that requests it.

5G could make live programmes are more reliable on-the-go and reduce congestion on the network when many people want to access a live programme concurrently. Further, 5G broadcast won’t eat into people’s data allowances.

The project in Germany will trial the new FeMBMS (Further evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) broadcast mode, which allows far-reaching and inexpensive distribution of content across large coverage areas with a radius of up to 60 kilometres.

Ulrich Wilhelm, Director General of Bayerischer Rundfunk, said, "We must design our future digital communications infrastructures in such a way that everyone can continue to benefit from the diversity of media content. I welcome the fact that Bavaria is playing a pioneering role in setting standards and in shaping our digital world in this sense."

Gerald Huber, Senior Manager 5G Projects at Telefónica Germany, commented, "We are supporting the 5G TODAY project in coordinating the spectrum used in the 700 MHz band.

It is important for us to learn more about long-range propagation in the 700 MHz band and the application of very large radio cells.”

Future foundations

Michael Hagemeyer, Managing Director of IRT, noted that although it will be a few years before commercial terminal devices are available and 5G broadcasting is widely possible, the test will provide important insights for further research.

IRT is coordinating the project and is developing a prototype FeMBMS receiver based on a software-defined radio (SDR) solution. In the future, this technology could be integrated into smartphones, tablets and TV sets to receive live and linear content over 5G.

The trial will run until autumn 2019.