5G has been edging its way to the forefront of the broadcast and media industry’s mind over the last year as a revolutionary technology standard that accelerates connectivity and enhances experiences. But conversations around 5G and 5G streaming have gained speed in a pandemic world, where – conspiracies aside – its benefits such as low latency, remote production and real-time communication have really shone.
We can’t ignore the impact this next-generation wireless standard can have on the way video is consumed and the speed in which the video market can grow and evolve. Where video quality has become a key value parameter for streaming TV providers and consumers alike, 5G opens the door to create a better quality of experience (QoE) and quality of service (QoS). But how can you open that door and utilize what’s behind it?
The deployment of 5G will cause video usage to grow to account for 70% of mobile network traffic in 2022, up from 47% in 2015. The promise of faster, higher quality 5G video streaming has made consumers sit up and take notice. Not only is it set to generate momentum in the consumption of general live video such as sports and live events, but also on-demand video too – on-the-go via mobile devices and in the home via home internet access.
As these findings from IHS Markit’s Digital Orbit report suggest, there’s an urgency for technology suppliers and mobile operators to prepare for widespread 5G deployment. In the video streaming space in particular, it’s paramount to develop cutting-edge technology that facilitates its growth. This concerns every aspect of the video lifecycle spanning production, delivery and distribution. After all, video streaming is deemed a key driver for 5G rollout, with participants in IHS Markit’s study ranking it as the activity they’ll do the most when 5G arrives, with social media, mobile gaming and virtual reality following.
Omdia’s 5G and beyond: Connecting the dots at MWC20 survey predicts that the global 5G smartphone market will only climb in demand due to declining device costs – a factor holding back the standard’s adoption to date. With 231 million units predicted to be shipped by the end of 2020, up from 29 million in 2019, and then doubled again in 2021, the accessibility and affordability of 5G-enabled mobile devices will contribute to its growth. This will resonate with younger consumers particularly well, who continue to demonstrate a favorable usage of mobile compared to other devices such as TV sets and PCs.
While 5G welcomes high bandwidth and low latency for content distribution and delivery, it also builds a sturdy and reliable infrastructure for content production, a point referenced in ABI’s New Opportunities for 5G in Content Production report. From driving partnerships between network operators and broadcasters to provide dedicated access to locations, to creating new revenue streams, the standard can power fruitful new business models.
With 5G expected to promote cellular mobile networks to ‘contribution networks’, content production can become simplified, making remote production easier by complementing professional equipment such as high-resolution professional cameras.
But ultimately, relying on 5G as a TV production network puts pressure on the CDN. A TV CDN that’s optimized for 5G needs to capture the growth of video and make sure the rollout of 5G delivers on its promise.
For example, a CDN that’s located at the edges is well suited for mobile networks, enabling operators to quickly scale streaming instances up and down as necessary. The highly granular management possibilities that can be on offer are unparalleled in any access technology, but they become even more powerful in a wireless network where capacity constraints typically occur.
As mobile networks become more congested, the ability to shape bitrates and manage sessions on a highly granular level enables efficient network utilization and QoE optimization. If video quality is jeopardized, it risks the viewer leaving the service temporarily or worst-case scenario, permanently. By load balancing between PoPs and on-net CDNs, and off-loading to third-party CDNs to optimize peaks, reach and redundancy, it’s possible to deliver better, high-quality and more cost-efficient 5G video applications.
It’s critical to build a CDN on Software Defined Networking (SDN) design principles to simplify infrastructure management and enable the ability to automate the scaling of sessions. Because of this, advanced routing functionalities and the ability to optimize QoE, common issues like network congestion when delivering video content over wireless networks can be tackled.
Functions and applications in 5G are deployed as virtual instances in virtualized data centers or in the cloud, either private or public. A CDN built with SDN design principles is engineered to be deployed in a Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) environment as a virtualized software instance, running in a data center with separated control and data planes. This approach simplifies configuration management and the orchestration of streaming instances, including associated caches in a 5G architecture. It allows mobile operators to adapt their architecture to topology and geography with edge and mobile edge computing (MEC) capabilities.
As adoption nears, the clock is ticking faster on getting ready for 5G streaming. It’s a matter of optimizing a 5G-compliant video streaming infrastructure to ensure the opportunities the standard presents are not missed.
Discover Edgeware’s CDN offering for 5G video streaming applications.
By Ali Soujeh, Commercial Lead for CDN Products at Edgeware
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