5G is Being Primed for Video: Ericsson Has A View

Mobile devices are increasingly used to consume video, but generally over WiFi in the home. However, the acceleration of mobile technology development and ultimately 5G networks could enable the wider use of cellular networks for live and on-demand video delivery, to mobiles as well as a viable alternative to fixed broadband to households. Ericsson’s Ulf Wahlberg, VP, Industry and Research Relations, Group Function Technology and Gordon Castle, Head of Strategy Area Mediacom at Ericsson provide The Broadcast Bridge with their expert take on the limits of 4G and the possibilities of 5G.

The Broadcast Bridge: What are the key requirements to deliver live and on-demand video over existing 4G networks?

Mobile broadband users are demanding unprecedented levels of access to higher quality video content than ever before. According to Ericsson’s June 2016 Mobility Report, by 2021, video will account for almost 70 percent of all mobile data traffic, driven by the emergence of a proliferation of smart devices. These evolving user behaviors and methods of content delivery have led to an industry shift towards delivery over IP networks, whether fixed in the home or in mobile-specific scenarios.

4G networks have enabled service providers to deploy a variety of premium entertainment video services to the mass market, opening up a wide range of revenue streams and opportunities to partner with numerous content owners and brands. The delivery of live and on-demand video over these networks meets the increasingly high demands for seamless video experiences from consumers, while efficiently utilizing available LTE spectrum and network resource.

In order to move into a mobile video-first era, methods of delivery will need to evolve further in order to enable the high capacity mobile networks needed to ensure this transition. IP will play an all-pervading role in the levels of future video consumption and as such, there will be increased challenges for service providers to meet the rate of technological change, increased consumer demand and competition from a greater playing field of industry competitors. Nevertheless, this also represents an opportunity; more people are streaming video content than ever before, which reinforces the need for service providers and broadcasters to develop an infrastructure that can deliver an enhanced, seamless video experience across all networks and devices.

Ulf Wahlberg, VP, Industry and Research Relations, Group Function Technology, Ericsson.

Ulf Wahlberg, VP, Industry and Research Relations, Group Function Technology, Ericsson.

For the most popular videos, LTE Broadcast, which combines Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (eMBMS), with High Efficiency Video Encoding (HEVC) compression technology and MPEG-DASH, increases the efficiency and responsiveness of video delivery to consumers. It offers a far more efficient way to deliver video, enabling multiple users to receive the same content simultaneously with a better quality of experience (QoE), as those users will not compete on radio resources – all will receive from the same – with the same latency and without experiencing video stalling due to re-buffering. LTE Broadcast can deliver the same content to multiple users with the capability to support a virtually unlimited number of users simultaneously, thereby maintaining efficient use of spectrum and network investments.

Already in 4G radio technologies have evolved to make 4G a viable alternative for Fixed Wireless installations for rural and suburban users in markets with lower fixed BB penetration. By creating a hybrid delivery model, utilizing both mobile broadband and traditional satellite or terrestrial TV distribution, IPTV-like experiences can be achieved

The Broadcast Bridge: What are the costs and benefits of using the technology?

As video delivery moves towards adaptive bitrate (ABR), we will see increased enablement of seamless streaming adaptations and better user experiences. Mobile Optimization technology will, apart from improving QoE, also provide Mobile operators the tool to manage and maintain a necessary cost control. TMO has in their BingeOn offering showed that applying a number of optimization features has made it possible to offer unlimited Video usage over MBB to a reasonable cost.

For most popular content LTE Broadcast represents a huge progression against the unicast characteristics of 3G and Wi-Fi, which require one data channel per user and grows to an unlimited number of channels ensuring resources are distributed on-demand.

DTH/DTT combined with Mobile broadband provides a good alternative to full IPTV for Household consumption. Traditionally this has been a complement, primarily for rural areas, but 4G radio technology makes this a competitive alternative also in smaller cities and suburbs.

There are a plethora of commercial opportunities available from adopting a mobile-first approach to video, including personalization, mobility and targeted advertising.

The Broadcast Bridge: What are the limits of 4G LTE - is there a bottleneck? Can it be overcome with new compression?

The current limitations of 4G networks can be seen through the unprecedented demands for data, driven by the consumer, particularly during periods of peak demand when the networks are stretched to their limits. At present, operators are being impeded by the costs of carrying huge levels of network traffic without a viable business model to turn demand into sustainable business growth. The 2015 Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media research found that over 50 percent of consumers now watch streamed on-demand video content at least once a day. The research also highlights that in the U.S., 4G users spend 2.5 times the amount for data on their TV and video viewing compared to 3G users; in the UK it is three times as much and in South Korea, four times as much. In total, cellular data usage in the U.S. makes up almost one third of the total data consumption for TV and video.

The arrival of 5G, for instance, has the potential to transform the way that television services are delivered to the home. By adopting a ‘fixed-wireless’ use case, 5G offers the high capacity last mile interconnection, with cost benefits that could significantly enhance the way converged TV and broadband services are delivered. 5G will open up the pathway to delivering live TV at scale, enabling service providers, broadcasters and OTT providers to transform their service provision by offering greater flexibility, lower energy requirements, greater capacity, bandwidth, security, reliability and data rates, as well as lower latency and device costs. The adoption of 5G will be a great enabler for the industry, combatting and reducing network impact and enabling operators to provide efficient, high quality services to bandwidth-hungry consumers.

The Broadcast Bridge: To what extent is video and TV delivery having an impact on the shaping of 5G standards?

5G - especially the ‘fixed-wireless’ use case - has the potential to transform the way that television services can be delivered to the home and raise the bar in terms of the quality of experience. Similar to the evolution of 3G to 4G, 5G networks will enable faster downloads (potentially allowing a 4K movie to be downloaded to a set-top box in seconds), high quality streaming, and delivery of Ultra HD (UHD) video in mobile and fixed local loop replacement scenarios. By delivering the ultimate speed and efficiency to all platforms, 5G radio architecture will provide data rates of tens of megabits per seconds for tens of thousands of people, with a radio latency of less than 1ms, responding to the need for high bandwidth applications, IoT and billions of video-enabled devices.

The TV and media ecosystem is having a significant impact on the debate on how to modify the 5G core network architecture as the core network has to evolve, from the one in 4G, to be able to deliver media over Internet in a more efficient way.

Gordon Castle, Head of Strategy Area Mediacom, Ericsson,

Gordon Castle, Head of Strategy Area Mediacom, Ericsson,

The Broadcast Bridge: To what extent is 5G being seen as a possible substitute technology for terrestrial broadcast?

The 5G radio access network is well suited to support delivery of the next generation of video services. Higher bandwidth (from 40 up to 100 Megabits per user in a sustainable way) and lower latency (1ms) will make new service capabilities possible, while integration with foundational video-centric functions such as caching and context-aware optimization will enable the best quality of experience with the most efficient use of network capacity for all video services. 5G takes TV and media services to the next level.

Some of the 5G wireless coverage will continue to be provided by LTE whilst at the same time frequency bands above 6GHz will be used with advanced beamforming radio techniques making high frequency radio spectrally efficient. Additionally, advanced antennas at the terminal side together with outdoor or window mounted antennas to home CPEs will appear using wi-fi networks for TV distribution in the home. The combined effect of roof-top / window, directional antennas and high frequencies will mean that cellular distribution of terrestrial TV by 2020 will be cost-competitive against fixed broadband for many households with reasonable consumption levels. We will see technologies such as LTE Broadcast playing a role for popularity based broadcasting of scheduled terrestrial linear channels initially at the lower frequencies, with higher frequency transmission used for point-to-point delivery of terrestrial linear and on-demand / catch-up TV to the home.

The Broadcast Bridge: What plans for trial and development do you have with regards to 5G?

Ericsson is already developing the new products as well adding new features to existing products necessary to build and deploy 5G network.

Ericsson is involved in almost all the 5G trials around the world working with the most innovative operators interested to understand better the technology and influencing its development.

The trials touch different aspects of 5G technology, the pure radio aspects to demonstrate the maximum throughput available per user as well as more complete trials aiming to demonstrate, early next year (2017), the complete 5G Fixed wireless architecture. In the latter Ericsson is committed with both 5G radio products as well as core network products to improve the efficiency of delivering media thru all the delivery chain from the Content Provider to the customer premises.

The Broadcast Bridge: What needs to happen with regards to net neutrality for 5G to succeed in Europe?

5G is not going to have an impact on network neutrality differently from 4G. No change in European net neutrality legislation in Europe is necessary for 5G to succeed.

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