How 5G Standalone Non-Public Networks are Changing the Game for Live Broadcast Contribution
This is the first in a series of posts featuring Haivision 5G connectivity partners
Haivision recently joined forces with the Scottish wireless communications company, Neutral Wireless, to support live video coverage of HM King Charles III’s Coronation over the world’s largest temporary private 5G network for media contributions. In this post we’re sharing more about 5G standalone NPNs (non-public networks), their benefits, and how broadcasters are harnessing 5G connectivity to broadcast live reliably and securely from anywhere with minimal equipment.
Haivision and Neutral Wireless Collaboration
Neutral Wireless is a software-defined radio communications company that offers end-to-end radio network solutions, including private 5G networks for broadcast connectivity. For the past three years, the company has been spearheading the deployment of pop-up 5G networks for live broadcast production for a range of news and sports use cases, culminating in the award-winning IBC Accelerator project in 2022, “5G Remote Production in the Middle of Nowhere”.
The project saw Neutral Wireless test their portable 5G “network-in-a-box” standalone solution around the world, with Haivision providing the Haivision Pro 460, Haivision Pro 360, and Haivision Air 320 mobile transmitters for the endeavor. The goal of the project was to prove that it’s entirely possible to travel anywhere in the world and successfully produce a live broadcast using private 5G networks for wireless camera connectivity.
The Benefits of 5G Non-Public Networks
Samuel Yoffe, Systems Engineer at Neutral Wireless, explains that at large events, broadcasters cannot rely on the public networks when they most need them. 5G standalone NPNs (often referred to as private networks) provide secure and uncontested capacity to ensure connectivity for priority devices such as high-definition cameras for broadcast contribution.
By leveraging 5G wireless networks during non-stationary events, including news and sports content involving roaming reporters and cameras, video transmitters like the Haivision Pro or Haivision Air enable broadcasters to provide live coverage from areas that are hard to reach by satellite trucks and OB vans. For example, a cable could not be laid over the runway at Edinburgh Airport during the final departure of HM Queen Elizabeth II from Scotland, so Neutral Wireless were brought in to provide a wireless camera link. As Yoffe explains:
“Newsgathering workflows have increasingly come to rely on public mobile networks to capture images and live video from the heart of the action. However, at large events with many attendees, or where coverage is limited, these networks can quickly become saturated with data as everyone tries to share their content to social platforms. Exploring options for contribution and acquisition over a private 5G network is a great way to solve this challenge, as well as enabling bi-directional traffic.”
Low Latency Live Danish Election Coverage Powered by 5G
Haivision and Neutral Wireless also teamed up to enable Denmark’s national public broadcaster, TV 2, to leverage the same 5G solution during the 2022 Danish parliamentary elections. Faced with the challenge of limited public network connectivity and the complexities of managing broadcast operations within the historical Christiansborg Palace, TV 2 was able to provide live coverage from multiple rooms within the building by relying on a 5G standalone “network-in-a-box” from Neutral Wireless both inside and outside of the building.
With this private 5G standalone solution, Neutral Wireless deployed two cells – one within the palace and another on a bike in the parliament square. This provided 5G connectivity for TV 2’s mobile cameras equipped with Haivision Pro460 mobile transmitters to transport video to Haivision StreamHub receivers for decoding at very low latency into a SMPTE-2110 workflow.
“The election coverage proved to be a huge success as our goal was to follow the results as closely as possible and reliably transmit coverage in real-time,” said Morten Brandstrup, Head of News Technology, TV 2 Denmark. “Haivision video transmitters were easy to deploy and worked seamlessly over our private 5G network, allowing us to achieve low latency transmission without compromising reliability or quality.”
Live Broadcasting the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III
For the Coronation in May 2023, the world’s broadcasters were faced with the challenge of competing for bandwidth on the public networks, not just with the huge crowds but also each other. Four months prior to the event, Neutral Wireless was approached by a major British broadcaster to provide a private 5G network with high uplink capacity over a large area to enable correspondents on the ground to provide live contributions and additional views of the procession, as Yoffe explains:
“An important factor for this broadcaster was that the camera operators and newsgathering teams did not want to change their workflows or have to do anything differently during the event. As such an important event, they needed to focus on their content creation, and be confident that the network was there to provide them, and other international news broadcasters, with the high uplink connectivity that they needed to go live from amongst the crowds.”
The World’s Largest Temporary Private 5G Network
The deployment during the Coronation was the largest temporary private 5G network in the world for media contributions, with seven cells on the contribution network providing over 1 Gbps of uncontested connectivity, from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Admiralty Arch, and proved to be a resounding success.
“One of the reasons why this application was so innovative was because multiple broadcasters from around the world were invited to join the network,” explains Yoffe. “In total, the network was leveraged by 20 international broadcast outlets to provide reliable connectivity to around 60 devices, including Haivision video transmitters. It was very efficient use of radio spectrum for so many devices.”
What’s Next for Private 5G Networks?
When talking about the future of private (or non-public) 5G networks, Neutral Wireless is very confident that they can be deployed for broadcast productions of all sizes. The software-defined radio approach is highly configurable and can adapt to the needs of the production, from contribution to production acquisition workflows.
“The Coronation clearly demonstrated that with the right technology and expertise, 5G can easily support live production workflows,” said Yoffe. “For large scale events, where the public networks can become saturated, a private 5G network is a great alternative that can also support ultra-low latency video streaming, even in 4K.”
As for upcoming projects, Neutral Wireless will continue to work with Haivision and its line of mobile transmitters to test and provide private 5G networks for large scale events and global broadcasters that require them.
“Private 5G networks can be flexible and can support both the newsgathering cellular-bonding workflows or be leveraged for production workflows where low latency feeds break out on-site,” added Cameron Speirs, Neutral Wireless CEO. “We’re continuing to work with Haivision and have several large events coming up where we’ll be supporting ultra-low latency streaming.”
Neutral Wireless was recently honored with the “Best Technical Paper” award as part of the 2023 IBC “Innovation Awards” for 5G Standalone Non-Public Networks: Modernising Wireless Production” which details the work done during the Coronation of King Charles III.
The company has also been shortlisted for an IBC Innovation Award, which celebrates collaboration in technology and creativity. Its nomination is in the “content creation” category, in which Haivision is named as a technology partner, for deploying the world’s largest pop-up 5G standalone non-public network for live contribution during the Coronation.
To learn more about Neutral Wireless, please visit their website.