In the days following Quee’s deathn Elizabeth II in Balmoral, Scotland, “unprecedented” was a widespread word regarding the general reaction to the events leading up to her funeral, and such a description could also be applied to the use of 5G and broadband technology satellite band to provide television broadcast of events to a global audience.
The early stages of the funeral program saw the invocation of Operation Unicorn, the code name for the plan to deal with the monarch’s death should it occur in Scotland. This included airlifting the Queen’s coffin from Edinburgh Airport to RAF Northolt near London on September 13, creating the need for a broadcast-capable high-definition wireless solution that avoided the use of cables over the airport runway, while mitigating interference and guaranteeing quality of service.
In what it says is a world first for its industry, Glasgow-based outside broadcast specialist QTV has deployed private 5G network technology to connect cameras used in international broadcast coverage, which due to the scale of production in Scotland – and indeed the whole of the UK – technical resources were stretched beyond their capabilities, QTV said.
The private 5G network was designed and deployed by the University of Strathclyde and its spin-off company, Neutral Wireless, and developed through a series of proof-of-concept trials earlier in 2022.
QTV has worked closely with national broadcasters to provide a global feed to TV channels around the world, including content captured on the private 5G network.
“This small but important site was left without any traditional RF systems for positions that could not be wired,” said Gareth Gordon, CTO of QTV. “The situation demanded new and innovative technological thinking to meet production expectations.
“From the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s marching band to the RAF’s C-17 Globemaster taking off and carrying the Queen of Scotland for the last time, these are breathtaking live images broadcast around the world from the tarmac of the ‘airport. The video link over the 5G network wasn’t there as a backup – it was a live stream to the world.
The pop-up Neutral Wireless 5G SA network was rolled out for QTV within 24 hours of being licensed for spectrum in radio frequency band n77 (3.8-4.2 GHz) by Ofcom, the UK broadcast and communications regulator. The use of such a private 5G SA network at an airport is also considered a first.
Outdoor broadcasting at Edinburgh Airport was also supported by Open Broadcast Systems and Zixi, the former providing encoders and decoders, and the latter providing licenses to use a software-defined video platform and protocol on 5G in the short term.
“The use of a dedicated private 5G network operating in shared spectrum licensed from Ofcom is considered a first for live television news,” said Bob Stewart, Software Defined Radio Team Leader from the University of Strathclyde. “A spectrum license was granted in the n77 frequency band at Edinburgh Airport and the network was quickly deployed on the tarmac beside the runway to provide connectivity for a wireless camera position. The network operated live and without technical problems for nine hours.
All broadcasters consider live events to be of extraordinary importance, with a previously very high risk of failure. Coverage of the Queen’s funeral and the security associated with the event ruled out the use of traditional vans and live satellite trucks, but for broadcaster France Télévisions failure was avoided by using production systems at remote stations operating on the Starlink satellite broadband network.
With wireless communications a necessity, the combination of TVU Networks’ TVU One solution with SpaceX’s satellite connectivity service was deemed vital as large gatherings of people completely saturate traditional cellular networks, which can lead to calls interrupted and unusable live shots, and a battle for bandwidth between broadcasters.
TVU One’s ability to aggregate multiple separate signals into a single redundant stream would have freed France Télévisions users from cellular saturation and, according to TVU, put an end to jitter, the primary cause of signal degradation in many streaming situations. live information.
Via its partner Magic Hour, TVU provided transmission packs allowing the routing of signals via Starlink as well as reception servers to increase the traffic needs of France Télévisions’ information management on the day of the funeral. France Télévisions was able to broadcast live continuously, control its production costs and cover the event from all editorially relevant locations.
“The TVU Networks/Starlink setup brought us to the crossroads of technology and history, creating the certainty that we could serve our audience flawlessly and focus on storytelling,” said Romuald Rat, production manager of information to France Télévisions. “It is impossible not to be very proud of what we have achieved.”