A transmitter from German technology company Rohde & Schwarz successfully went into operation at the Wendelstein transmitter site of Bavarian public broadcaster BR on December 4, 2018 as part of the 5G Today research project.
In addition, fellow project partner Kathrein completed an antenna test operation at BR’s transmitter site in Ismaning near Munich.
The introduction of 5G will open up a worldwide market with millions of smartphones and tablets acting as potential TV receivers able to combine live TV, catch-up and on-demand services, social networks and other media application, according to the project partners.
“With 5G Broadcast, a new, very efficient distribution method is currently being created to provide stationary and, above all, mobile users with high-quality linear and hybrid channels and services,” said Helwin Lesch, head of BR’s distribution and controlling department. “BR is particularly interested in the possibility of broadcasting radio and TV channels via 5G. The 5G-HTHP technology allows widescale distribution of content in the existing broadcast frequency range. No additional frequency spectrum is required for this.”
LTE Broadcast, also known as FeMBMS (Further evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service), was specified in 3GPP Release 14 in June 2017. It defines new options for broadcasting to LTE-enabled mobile user equipment such as smartphones and tablets. For the first time, the upgraded standard allows high-power high-tower (HPHT) applications in downlink only mode while utilising the full signal bandwidth for multicast/broadcast applications. Moreover, 3GPP Release 14 defines an extended cyclic prefix (guard interval) and modes to enable operation without SIM cards, which is necessary for broadcast applications.
The R&S THU9evo high-power transmitter with a transmission power of 5 kW (100 kW ERP) and the specially developed antenna from German technology company Kathrein are part of the LTE Broadcast test transmission. The Rohde & Schwarz FeMBMS transmission addresses broadcast applications for video and IP data in HPHT topologies with bandwidths of 5 MHz and 10 MHz. The transmitter receives the reference and configuration data via 3GPP-conform protocols from an LTE EPC (Evolved Packet Core). The research project uses the Rohde & Schwarz broadcast service and control centre R&S BSCC that contains all necessary EPC functions. The broadcast services are provided by BR and transferred to the R&S BSCC via an R&S AVHE100 headend.
The transmitters in Ismaning and on the Wendelstein mountain form a Single Frequency Network (SFN), which is to enable mobile and portable reception in the greater Munich area as well as on the main traffic routes between Munich and Salzburg. Kathrein developed a special antenna for the transmission of diversity signals for the transmitter station in Ismaning. 12 UHF antenna fields were installed at a height of 200 meters. The project also included the installation of a 370-metre long, arm-thick HF transmission cable. Another Rohde & Schwarz high-power transmitter with 7 kW output power for 100 kW ERP is to be connected to the antenna at the end of January 2019. The test broadcasting network will then be prepared for the measurements.
The 5G field trial is established in Germany as part of the Bavarian research project 5G Today. The project is funded by the Bavarian Research Foundation. Under the leadership of the Institute for Broadcast Technology (IRT), project partners Kathrein and Rohde & Schwarz are investigating large-scale TV broadcasts in the FeMBMS mode over 5G broadcast networks. The project is supported by Telefónica Germany and ARD’s Bavarian affiliate BR, who is providing two HPHT sites near Munich for this field trial.