Half of the broadcasters, however, anticipate network issues to be 5G’s biggest challenge.
According to a recent global survey of broadcasters, 82% believe that cellular networks like 5G will eventually replace traditional broadcast distribution like DTT/DTV and satellite as the preferred way to access TV content, with over a third (37%) of these respondents expecting this to begin happening within one to two years.
The survey, conducted on behalf of Nevion, discovered that 10% still anticipate that it will take more than three years for 5G to overtake traditional services but the vast majority (94%) of broadcasters agree that 5G will likely increase content consumption.
As increasing numbers of people favour streaming over conventional linear television delivery, 5G capabilities will help to cater to this audience and the demand to be able to stream content on the go.
With 5G set to enable viewers to stream live content on any connected device no matter where they are, Andy Rayner, Chief Technologist at 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 and 5G delivery (when ready) will co-exist for a reasonable time.”
There are clear shortcomings with the current capabilities of mobile technology compared to DTT, which is highly optimised for power-efficient digital linear broadcast distribution.
There is also a key distinction between the potential of service provider offerings for broadcast media consumption and the use of the 5G radio technology to provide future real-time broadcast distribution capability.
These views regarding 5G as the primary means of distribution of TV content are reflected in the research findings. Half (50%) of the broadcasters surveyed think the biggest challenge of using it will be network performance issues and coverage issues (42%). This is followed by issues with reliability (26%) and network security (22%), as well as some broadcasters expressing concern about the environmental impact of 5G.
Nonetheless, the research uncovered broadcasters’ optimism about the potential of 5G in production with 95% of broadcasters expecting to adopt 5G within two years.
Rayner concluded: “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.”