In a joint position paper, German, Austrian and Swiss industry associations VAUNET, APR, VÖP and VSP demand access to 5G Broadcast, the broadcast mode of the new mobile network standard 5G.
Terrestrial reception of freely accessible analogue and digital broadcasting (FM/DAB+), supplemented by distribution via IP, must be ensured in the long term in order to sustainably secure a diverse and high-quality broadcasting market in Europe, the associations explain in the position paper, reports German industry magazine InfoDigital. As part of the multi-platform strategy, this also includes the use of 5G technology for multicast broadcasting (5G Broadcast).
Broadcast services must be available on all reception infrastructures relevant to users, stresses the paper. Every broadcaster must be able to choose the infrastructure that suits its offer and its target group. In particular, mobile devices, such as smartphones, integrated systems in vehicles or smart speakers, should integrate standards for the reception of broadcast services, including 5G Broadcast.
Broadcast services would then be receivable via all 5G-capable end devices at any time and anywhere. This would also be highly relevant in disaster or emergency situations.
As with terrestrial radio broadcasting via FM or DAB+, the diversity-securing framework conditions must also be preserved for 5G Broadcast, including free-to-air transmissions, reception without a SIM card and no access control by third parties or other gatekeepers, the associations demand, adding that must-carry regulation for licenced broadcasters like on cable networks must also be established.
The associations also demand an obligation for manufacturers and mobile network operators, according to which every end device brought onto the market must offer functionalities (e.g. modem/chipset) enabling access to broadcast content. Deactivation should not be permissible.
With their initiative, the associations want to ensure that in the long term all terrestrial distribution infrastructures continue to be open to radio in order to reach listeners directly, unhindered and unencrypted, without costs for reception, for example through a contract with a mobile network operator or data consumption. Given the increasing use of radio and audio content on smartphones and tablets, it is a smart move for the radio industry to start looking at 5G Broadcast as a possible future distribution platform.
How a multi-platform strategy can be implemented in practice was recently demonstrated by German public broadcaster NDR, which has started transmitting its radio channels via DTT. With the move, NDR wants to make its radio channels available to listeners on as many platforms as possible, increase the attractiveness of DTT and bring it in line with other distribution infrastructures on which radio is already offered.
Update, March 30, 2021: The position paper will be officially presented by the German, Austrian and Swiss commercial broadcasters’ industry associations VAUNET, APR, VÖP and VSP tomorrow. It is available for download as a PDF file on APR’s website.