5G is here – what it means for content creation and streaming
Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their insights on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this song Eric Bolten, Vice President of Business Development at Zixi, examines the impact of the 5G era on the digital content industry.
After several years of false starts largely due to the global impact of the pandemic, 2022 should be the year the 5G ecosystem really starts to take off. The consumer side is now mostly a given – Apple’s new 2022 iPhone SE, for example, is among the 2022 units offering 5G connectivity in the sub-$500 bracket – and as the year progresses we’ll start to see a significant increase in contribution and remote live production use cases. 5G-enabled media workflows will also not be limited to outlier events, but will reach across the entire entertainment landscape.
From content to consumer
5G is expected to have an accelerating effect on all areas of the media supply chain, from content generation to consumer delivery where increased bandwidth at the point of consumption can enable new immersive video experiences.
The cumulative impact is going to be immense, as every component of the media supply chain is accelerated.
There will be greater amounts of higher quality content, flowing more quickly in both directions – not only to the consumer, but also to and/or between organizations. There’s a huge democratization of high-quality content creation going on. Tools and techniques that were once the domain of high-end industry-specific equipment were usurped first by IP-based technologies and then by the cloud, putting them in everyone’s hands. Bringing it all to 5G removes the last technical barrier, and with the growing adoption of cloud-as-a-service business models, more people have access to broadcast-grade technology than ever before.
5G is a catalyst for cloud adoption, and cloud delivery infrastructure enables media companies and service providers to quickly leverage SaaS solutions to ingest and distribute live video over IP. This provides premium quality with ultra-low latency and the flexibility and scale to add new patterns for captivating audiences.
As part of the entire 5G deployment process, global carriers are looking to improve value for their customers by moving to Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC). It uses 5G-based cellular networks for its core connectivity, which is much more efficient in delivering a massive increase in the number of connected devices and systems that can be supported as opposed to a traditional cloud architecture. MEC helps reduce latency and increase throughput, and as such further speeds up broadcasters’ plans.
This will be stimulated by the acceleration of cellphone deployment. For specific sports and events use cases, major venues have already overseen their own successful 5G deployments and the number of urban deployments continues to grow. The confident expectation is that 5G cellular infrastructure will begin to grow exponentially as the implications of 5G for users are realized and adopted.
It’s important to remember that the drivers of this growth are legion, from our own broadcast industry use cases, to Industry 4.0, to infrastructure deployments and to fully realizing the promise of ‘Internet of Things. For the last link in the media supply chain, the consumer, 5G will have profound consequences. Media will become ubiquitous, environments will become more immersive, and bandwidth will scale at previously unimaginable speeds, while latency will drop through the floor.
To be honest, as an industry, we haven’t yet touched on how all of this will change technology, application, and how consumers interact with media, but smart money is on the rise. of disruptive wearables that essentially immerse the consumer into an always-on 5G ecosystem and deliver new classes of functionality.
make it all work
Under the hood, one area likely to see rapid innovation is monetization. Nothing about 5G comes cheap and organizations will be looking to monetize their offerings and add value at multiple intersections throughout the supply chain to achieve ROI. These don’t have to be big transactions, because of the speed with which the networks will work, a myriad of small-scale interactions can be set up. For example, teams could sell an AR selfie taken with a driver in the cockpit of an F1 car, or clubs offer real-time betting in stadiums on whether a penalty will be scored to fans in the crowd. Gamification is going to be one of the key concepts here as media companies seek to make video relevant to a generation high on instant interactions and gratification via mobile devices.
It’s worth pointing out that the amount of data all of this will generate is orders of magnitude above what we’ve seen before. As a result, we will see serious investments being made in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) deployments that will examine the volume of data and extrapolate patterns from it. The net result, oddly enough, could be giving consumers experiences they didn’t even know they wanted or the industry had never even considered. Data analytics has become increasingly vital to all businesses in recent years, and as developments in AI and ML also accelerate in 2022, it is going to become absolutely mission critical.
The legal framework that underpins all of this is going to be interesting to watch. Privacy legislation such as the European GDPR is spreading around the world, and how the data exchanges that will form the mesh in which 5G-enabled devices are both controlled and regulated will be one of the main challenges in establishing 5G ecosystems.
Add it all up and you have a fascinating mix. The opportunities for 5G are immense, but some of the use cases that will serve as its flagship applications are still unknown, and its deployment presents certain challenges, both in terms of investment and regulation. In many ways, this resembles the very early days of the Internet, when everything was very much in play from a technical and business perspective. But unlike that era, which took several years to reach what could be called a mass-market proposition, 5G will roll out to the full brilliance of global expectations from day one. It’s going to be a fascinating few years.
Eric is a leading digital video expert, advising the world’s largest, most complex and demanding clients, from media and sports entities to Fortune 1000 corporations. His career spans executive positions , sales, marketing and business development in markets around the world, including Australia, Asia, South America, Europe and the United States. Prior to Zixi, Eric worked for Com Tech, PictureTel, Vela Research, Venaca and Signiant.