The BBC and BT created a slice of TV history today with when BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones made the UK’s first live TV contribution over a public 5G connection.
Powered by EE’s 5G network which went live today, the segment appeared on Thursday’s BBC Breakfast and saw Cellan-Jones appear on the show live from Covent Garden.
Broadcasters and network operators both say 5G can play an important role in simplifying the covering of news, current affairs, sport and other live programmes.
While coverage can already be sent back to production studios via existing 4G networks, this requires multiple connections to provide sufficient capacity to carry the live video feeds. By contrast, today’s trial needed only one connection, reducing both the complexity and cost of the production.
To make the trial possible, specialised 5G modems were connected to BBC News cameras to take advantage of the new 5G network.
The trial also allowed the teams to explore different encoding options to compress the video, allowing it to be sent back to New Broadcasting House, and decompressing it for live playout.
Matthew Postgate, Chief Technology and Product Officer at the BBC, said: “This is an excellent example of how the BBC experiments with cutting-edge technology to improve how we make programmes.
“5G is a hugely interesting area for us to explore, with potential to reduce the cost and complexity of outside broadcasts, and as a way of delivering content to audiences in the future.
“The internet will play a bigger role in broadcasting and we’re pioneering the techniques, standards and ways of working to truly take advantage of it.”
Alex Tempest, Managing Director, Wholesale at BT said: “We are delighted to demonstrate the power and innovation that 5G can bring to the media and broadcasting industry through our trial with the BBC.
“Whether on the street, in a stadium or on location, 5G provides a new dimension that can deliver the speed, efficiency and reliability that outside broadcasting requires. And gives broadcasters the ability to deploy equipment quickly and with ease, without having to worry about the connection.”