Vodafone Deutschland has announced it is partnering with local German broadcaster WDR to trial broadcasting of live and on-demand TV content via 5G mobile networks.
The two will work together to test 5G broadcasting in existing 5G ‘labs’ in Düsseldorf and Aldenhoven. The trial will involve delivering WDR content via a 5G tests system to 5G-enabled mobile phones and tablets in 4K quality, and will run through until 2020.
Vodafone says the immediate benefits of 5G powered broadcasting would be improvements in quality and functionality over what is currently possible. While live streaming TV content over 4G networks is certainly viable, Vodafone says 5G will allow content to be delivered in “the highest possible quality […] regardless of whether you’re in a moving car or at home”.
While enhanced quality might not initially seem revolutionary, there could be wider implications in terms of how viewers consume broadcast content. If the quality and stability of live streams on mobile and tablets catch up with standard set-top box TV delivery, it seems likely more consumers will choose to watch TV even when not connected over WiFi on their phones and tablets, whilst commuting for example.
Even more interestingly, many predict that 5G will eventually allow live TV broadcasts to be broadcast directly into smart TV sets, without the need for a set-top box. A report from Strategy Analytics in 2017 concluded that 5G will allow operators to support TV-equivalent services, which could eat into the global TV and video market currently served by cable, satellite, IPTV and terrestrial broadcast service providers.
David Mercer, VP and principal analyst at strategy analytics, said that 5G TV would “raise important questions relating to the roles of different ecosystem players and the future structure of the media value chain”. While many mobile network operators are already big players in the TV world anyway, there’s an opportunity for mobile-only telcos to expand into TV delivery.