Private 5G, a guaranteed connection for the media

Published on 31/01/2024 in Innovate

For its 11th anniversary, Viva for Life is testing a private 5G network deployed by Proximus NXT for live coverage of its programs. A complementary system and a mix of ecosystems lay the foundations for a network with guaranteed connectivity.

Private 5G, a guaranteed connection for the media

After 11 editions of Viva for Life, RTBF's Christmas Eve charity campaign has become a true institution. The idea is simple: in a town in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, three presenters take turns to collectively spend 144 hours broadcasting non-stop while locked up in a cube for everyone to see. This year, it is organized in the municipality of Bertrix.

The aim of the initiative is to raise funds to fight child poverty by reaching as many people as possible through multimedia content (radio, TV, Auvio, Internet, and social networks). An editorial, logistical, and technological challenge for which they use a private 5G connection this year.

Streamlining the system

"The desire to streamline technical resources in order to better manage the impact of the technological rollout was present even at the very start of Viva for Life,” Pascal Cardoen, Site Management Advisor responsible for relations between Charleroi - Mons - Namur at RTBF, explains. "At the same time, we want to guarantee a quality service for a live event or a recording of content for post-production." In short, the system had to remain flexible while offering the technical resources needed to produce content. What a program!

The desire to streamline technical resources in order to better manage the impact of the technological rollout was present even at the very start of Viva for Life

Pascal Cardoen, Site Management Advisor in charge of Charleroi - Mons - Namur relations at RTBF

A hybrid solution

To achieve this, Viva for Life 2023 has opted for a solution that combines wired installations with 5G technology for capturing live broadcasts. "The private 5G network comes on top of the infrastructure put in place by RTBF," Pascal Cardoen continues. Set up especially for the event, the private 5G antenna guaranteed constant bandwidth and flow, with downlink speeds of up to 1 Gbps and uplink speeds of over 100 Mbps.

“The private 5G network avoids saturation because it is isolated and invisible with a conventional SIM card and independent of the public network,” stresses Eric Van Wettere, Pre-Sales Expert for the private 5G network at Proximus NXT. Within the context of this “Proof of Concept’, this is a considerable advantage when it comes to connecting two pan-tilt-zoom, or PTZ, cameras and a giant screen for live coverage in the Place de Bertrix.

Definite advantages

This is the first time the private 5G network has been deployed at a mass event and over such a long period (144 hours live), while also demonstrating its effectiveness for all data flows. "Aside from reducing the amount of cable needed by many kilometers, this technology has proved that it is an asset as a priority network for a special event," Pascal Cardoen emphasizes. Whether it is used for covering concerts, sports competitions, or breaking news, from now on the private 5G network will play an important role.

The private 5G network avoids saturation because it is isolated, invisible, and independent of the public network

Eric Van Wettere, Pre-Sales Expert for the private 5G network at Proximus NXT

Prospects for the future

The dedicated solution requires the installation of a private antenna and public 5G makes it possible to take advantage of the slicing option. "This involves reserving some of the bandwidth of the public network for private use," Eric Van Wettere explains. There is no on-site installation required and slicing will undoubtedly make life easier for media professionals by guaranteeing them a constant connection.

"The ultimate aim is to capitalize on 5G technology to capture and transfer video streams, which are then routed to a remote control room, such as via Proximus' extensive fiber network. This type of filming is more efficient in terms of the equipment and human resources deployed on site.”

Cohesion and co-creation

Viva for Life's private 5G network experience was made possible through a collaborative process that began more than a decade ago. "Bertrix is the full-scale version of all the tests carried out upstream," Pascal Cardoen explains. "This has enabled us to see that it was appropriate to co-create together with a view to making our equipment and technical protocols, some of which are very specific to the media, end-to-end compatible, so that we can use the private 5G network in a fluid way.

As a result, we were able to build a tailor-made solution that can now be replicated for other live events." A key objective of the approach by Proximus NXT.

This co-creation approach requires a great deal of investment on both sides, with inevitable failures, lessons to be learned, obstacles to be overcome or bypassed, and always in cooperation with the customer and the partners involved in the project. "We mixed two engineering departments and two types of business," Eric Van Wettere continues. "But it's precisely by doing this that we've been able to better understand how our two ecosystems work. In this way, we grew and enriched each other with a unique experience, both human and technological. A double success!”

In December 2023, for the first time, RTBF and Proximus NXT tested a private 5G network to capture the Viva For Life operation and its 144 hours of live coverage. These promising results pave the way for other potential uses of 5G by RTBF in the future.

A private 5G network is a mobile network dedicated to meeting the needs of a particular organization. It offers higher bandwidth guarantees, lower latency and greater security than public networks, resulting in better performance, greater reliability and greater efficiency. This makes it ideal for companies looking to implement advanced applications such as augmented reality, industrial automation, autonomous vehicles and many more.

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