A Highland Games in the heart of Scotland is at the forefront of a pioneering project testing future TV production in remote locations using 5G and involving world-class broadcasters.
As this year’s Pitlochry Highland Games in Perthshire take place on September 10, some of the action will be transmitted live using a private local 5G split-spectrum network to the International Broadcasting Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam – where approximately 40,000 dedicated technologists and engineers from the global media community will attend the show.
The groundbreaking project aims to demonstrate how portable and flexible a private 5G “network in a box” can be for live television production use cases, bringing it to some truly remote world locationsas well as at the IBC show itself.
The project is testing production on 5G for broadcasters including BBC Research & Development, BTSport, TV2, Paramount, Olympic Broadcasting Services and RTE.
The 5G private standalone network was designed, engineered and integrated by a local technology spin-off company, Neutral Wireless Ltd, in conjunction with the Software Defined Radio (StrathSDR) engineering team at the University of Strathclyde and the Scotland 5G Center rural testbed project.
The technology will be housed in an unassuming box with antenna, located in a corner of the balcony of the main event pavilion. As dancers perform on bagpipes and cabers fly through the air, games will be delivered with dedicated bandwidth using shared spectrum, with no interference or capacity issues affecting transmission quality – even in large crowds. where many consumers and visitors use their mobile phones and local WiFi.
Professor Bob Stewart, of the University of Strathclyde and director of StrathSDR, said:
This essay will show how portable our 5G private standalone network really is and how we can “spawn” private networks using shared spectrum and connect cameras, microphones, monitors and other user devices or handsets.
Paul Coffey, CEO of Scotland 5G Center, added: “It’s great to see that 5G capability can communicate the celebration of Scottish identity at the Pitlochry Highland Games to our fellow broadcasters in Amsterdam.
“This is an important use case from our partners at the University of Strathclyde, as it demonstrates the portability of a private 5G ‘autonomous network’ and opens up many possibilities for future use of 5G technology in live TV broadcasts. “
Mark Smith, IBC Accelerator Media Innovation Program Manager, said: “Pitlochry will help us show that 5G remote production can take place anywhere. We are testing in four remote areas of the world, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand, as well as Pitlochry, which provides the perfect opportunity to focus on a private 5G network, relaying learnings to the global community of media and entertainment technology. ..”
Dr Cameron Speirs, CEO of Neutral Wireless Ltd, said: “It is exciting to provide the fully portable 5G non-public network as the backbone for local communications at the Pitlochry Highland Games.
“The 5G NIB uses part of the UK’s shared spectrum band and is configured to support the high uplink data rates required for successful media content production. This revolutionary technology could ultimately transform rural broadcasting and eliminate the need for giant satellite trucks and miles of cabling.