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BBC unveils world-first 5G trial

The BBC is undertaking live radio broadcasts over 5G mobile networks in the first public trial of its kind.

The trial, to be conducted in Stronsay, Orkney, is intended to help the BBC reach more people in rural areas in future. The trial will run for an initial six weeks with potential to extend.

Part of the wider 5G RuralFirst initiative, where several other trials are exploring the potential of 5G for rural businesses and communities across the country, it uses a modified version of the BBC Sounds app and a broadcast-ready smartphone. For those taking part in the trial they will be among the first to receive live radio broadcasts over 5G that will include on-demand programmes, podcasts and music.

The BBC said that it was keen to explore the benefits associated with 5G broadcasting..

The trial works by sending a single version of a programme out over a wide area, which anybody in range can receive. This differs from live-streaming, where the same programme is sent individually to every person that requests it.

For audiences in rural areas, where bandwidth is often low and unstable, this means enjoying live programmes more reliably and broadcasting over 5G can help reduce congestion on the rest of the network.

A 4G/5G network and associated technology has been installed on Stronsay especially for the trial. The local wireless ISP, Cloudnet, is hoping to take over aspects of the technology at the end of the trial with the aim of providing wireless home broadband services to the island.

The 5G RuralFirst plans to demonstrate several 5G use-cases across testbeds in Orkney, Shropshire and Somerset and to create a business case for rural areas being better connected.

Author
Neil Tyler

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