OnQ Blog

Making 5G broadcast ready for prime time

How 5G broadcast in Release 16 can bring new opportunities for the broader cellular and broadcast ecosystem.

Apr 30, 2021

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Today, videos drive the most traffic on our networks, accounting for approximately two-thirds of the overall global mobile data consumption – and this trend is expected to continue growing into the new decade [1]. At Qualcomm Technologies, we’ve been working on holistically enhancing video experiences, making significant improvements in video codecs and streaming performance (e.g., through our work in MPEG and VCEG), as well as making video delivery more efficient. Cellular broadcast is one such technology that we have been pioneering over many generations, leading to the era of 5G broadcast. It’s a new end-to-end system designed for a wide set of applications, from delivering linear TV services and new immersive experiences (e.g., XR) to facilitating public safety communication, better automotive safety, and more.

5G broadcast is evolving in two distinct modes

We envisioned 5G as a unified platform that can connect diverse devices, services, and deployments. 5G broadcast in Release 16 is defined to do so by supporting two distinct modes: 5G standalone broadcast and mixed-mode multicast.

  • 5G standalone broadcast: a dedicated broadcast-only network (i.e., independent of cellular networks) that can address the emerging needs of broadcasters and content providers, giving them access to broader audiences via efficient content delivery to both fixed and mobile devices. Release 16 enhanced TV, building on the new end-to-end system and radio access design in Release 14, and can meet all major 5G broadcast requirements defined in TR 38.913. It can be deployed in existing UHF spectrum (i.e., 470 to 698 MHz) that broadcasters already own or have access to, and its design allows the reuse of existing cellular modem building blocks.

  • 5G Mixed-mode multicast: a new 5G capability in mobile operator networks that can support dynamic switching between unicast and broadcast modes, which can improve system capacity and efficiency.

Both standalone broadcast and mixed-mode multicast will continue to evolve in Release 17 and beyond, further enhancing system performance and expanding into new use cases like IoT and public safety communication.

5G broadcast is garnering global interests for commercialization

In recent years, the support for 5G broadcast across the broader mobile and broadcast ecosystem has grown significantly. This is exemplified by the more than 25 3GPP members who cosigned the Release 16 Work Item, which was subsequently completed in 2020. The 5G Multimedia Action Group (5G MAG) is a cross-industry organization established in 2019 and, today, has more than 40 active members across the media sector promoting the commercial adoption of 5G broadcast. There are a number of 5G broadcast trials that have been conducted, and new trials are being planned worldwide which are rapidly setting the stage for virtually seamless rich media content delivery to our 5G devices.

As 5G advances into the next decade, we anticipate the needs of broadcasters, content providers, operators, and users alike will continue evolving. Not only can 5G broadcast address those needs, but it is also a flexible platform that can expand into supporting new applications and delivering future experiences.

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Pioneering 5G Broadcast

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Join my webinar on May 4th to learn more about how Qualcomm Technologies pioneered 5G broadcast, as well as our continuing efforts to drive its technology evolution and future commercialization in close collaboration with the broader mobile and broadcast ecosystem.


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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Lorenzo Casaccia

Vice President of Technical Standards, Qualcomm Europe, Inc.

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