Two new reports by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) conclude that a 5G Broadcast system could be safely introduced alongside existing DTT in the contested UHF band, and that existing broadcast towers could be used to significantly enhance the coverage and minimise the cost of rollout of this new technology.
5G Broadcast is an addition to the 5G standard that could bring free-to-air content to mobile phone users without the need for additional receivers to be built into handsets and for the user to get a subscription.
The first report, titled 5G Broadcast Network Planning and Evaluation (EBU TR 063), confirms that existing broadcast infrastructure – High Power High Tower (HPHT) and Medium Power Medium Tower (MPMT) – could have a role to play in 5G Broadcast and that testing should continue in this area.
HPHT and MPMT contribute to cost efficiency, but for good coverage in all environments they should be complemented with Low Power Low Tower (i.e. cellular networks) particularly in urban environments, the report says.
The report also stresses that due to practical and regulatory constraints at national and regional boundaries, hybrid 5G broadcast networks could be partially operated in multiple frequency networks. Although this lowers the spectral efficiency below that achievable by pure single frequency networks setups, the gains would outweigh the losses. The report also assesses the capacity (in bitrates) offered by the various network topologies.
The second report, Compatibility between 5G Broadcast and other DTT systems in the sub-700 MHz band (EBU TR 064), looks at how 5G Broadcast and existing DTT could co-exist in the UHF band currently used by DTT alone and evaluates three possible scenarios for the introduction of 5G Broadcast in the sub-700 MHz band.
It concludes that the reuse of coordinated GE06 DTT frequencies by 5G Broadcast seems to be the most practical way for early introduction of 5G Broadcast in the concerned band. The report also shows the benefits of standardising an 8 MHz bandwidth for 5G Broadcast to maximise the efficiency of spectral usage.