By: Charles Kraus, Senior Product Marketing Manager
March 30, 2021
With every new generation of mobile network, we've witnessed massive innovations, especially when it comes to media, communications, and entertainment.
1G—the first mobile network—allowed us to communicate via cell phones with analog voice technology. With 2G, voice communication switched over from analog to digital. 3G brought us early mobile web browsing—and the first mobile data plans. 4G LTE, which most of us use now, delivered mobile broadband and the possibility to watch media like YouTube videos on demand.
Now with 5G we're only just starting to figure out all the amazing things this new generation of connectivity will enable.
Essentially, 5G is a faster, lower-latency, more reliable internet.
The introduction of 4G LTE largely served as a faster connection than 3G. 5G connections will be even faster and it's specifically built to service new and emerging technologies. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), for example, internet connections need to service many more devices than ever before.
With its faster, more reliable connection capable of handling heavier data loads, large files and high quality video will be able to be delivered to end user devices from internet service provider networks more quickly.
Faster delivery of information holds a lot of promise for many forms of communication and media. But let's focus on the effect of 5G on one particularly exciting area: realtime video.
Live streaming of high bitrate 4K and soon 8K video requires bandwidth of 25Mbps and higher to deliver these streams over the user's internet connection. Since 5G is capable of supporting high bandwidth connections, it’s a great pipeline for high bitrate realtime video.
5G internet connections are just one piece of the video workflow, which starts at on-site video cameras, through video encoders, ingested into a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to distribute the live streams, egress from the CDN to a service provider, and finally the internet connection to audience devices. This entire workflow path must be able to support high bitrate streams in order for viewers to have the video experience promised by 5G.
To understand what 5G means for realtime video streaming, we spoke with several industry experts to hear their predictions for both businesses and consumers.
1. The door will be opened for many new innovations
When you mention 5G and video in the same sentence, it's easy for your mind to jump to new media and entertainment offerings. But realtime video has many different applications outside of pure entertainment.
Realtime streaming video will offer wider access to specialized medical treatment. For example, surgeons will be able to use robots and operate remotely, providing improved medical care in remote areas of the world that was never before possible
But medicine isn't the only industry that can use realtime video to its advantage.
2. Live events will be enhanced for both in-person and virtual viewers
Large entertainment events, such as sports tournaments or concerts, can use 5G connections to stream live performances in real time. With access to their own 5G connection, virtual attendees will be able to experience these events at the same time as in-person ticket holders.
Venues are already preparing for the proliferation of 5G and the new possibilities it offers for broadcasting. FC Barcelona, for example, has partnered with Telefónica to create Europe's first 5G-enabled stadium, Camp Nou. It features wireless 360-degree cameras that will allow the team to broadcast their games from many different angles and create improved viewing experiences for at-home spectators.
In-person attendees can also use 5G-enabled technology to enhance their experience of a match. They can use a mobile app, for example, to view the field with an overlay of player stats and information. Using virtual reality glasses, they can also view the game from different angles, eventually making every seat a front-row seat with an optimal view.
While it might take a while for venues to offer VR-compatible experiences, the option to offer augmented reality-powered (AR) experiences via a 5G-compatible mobile app could be available very soon. Most—if not all—handset devices are expected to support 5G by early 2021.
3. Media and entertainment companies will have to step up their video performance capabilities
As 5G connections become more widespread—and as organizations figure out how to offer new experiences to viewers—consumers will expect access to the latest realtime video technology. And those expectations will likely include higher standards for graphics and visuals, as well as little to no lag time when streaming.
As 5G proliferates, the quality of a company's picture and live streaming capabilities will become increasingly important. As more organizations optimize for 5G, companies who haven't made the right investments will get left behind, offering comparatively choppy, pixelated images.
5G will offer many opportunities for both companies and viewers to create and consume exciting new digital experiences. However, to meet new consumer expectations, organizations that rely on the delivery of media and entertainment will have to rise to meet new challenges.
Investing in 5G means more than partnering with carriers to access faster networks. It means really digging down into the logistics of content delivery. Companies who rely on CDNs to distribute data, for example, will have to ensure those CDNs are equipped to handle 5G-enabled demands by storing and delivering data at the edge of their networks.
Limelight Networks prides itself on operating at the cutting edge of realtime interactive streaming technologies so our customers can deliver high-quality content to their customers. Learn more about how Limelight Networks can help you take your realtime video offerings to the next level.