Madrid, november 9th, 2023

UHD over 5G is now a reality: SAPEC coordinates the largest UHD-Spain project

  • UHD Spain associates, under the coordination of SAPEC, offered a pioneering test of UHD-HDR video and NGA audio broadcasting including 5G contributions and transmission.
  • The content, after being mixed in the cloud, was broadcasted using the SAPEC SIVAC-ONE encoders via DTT (DVB-T2), satellite (DVB-S2), Internet (OTT, HbbTV) and the 5G Broadcast system.
  • The experience consisted of the transmission of a live concert of the singer Israel Fernández from the Real Observatorio Astronómico of Madrid (Spain) with the collaboration of Radio3 (RTVE).

Madrid, November 9, 2023 The experience of SAPEC, expert in the design, development and manufacturing of video contribution and distribution solutions for broadcast environments, has been at the forefront of the great proof of concept of UHD Spain this year: the transmission of UHD-HDR video with NGA audio from 5G contributions, its production in a cloud system and its subsequent distribution via DTT (DVB-T2), satellite (DVB-S2), Internet (OTT, HbbTV) and the 5G Broadcast standard. This milestone proposed by UHD-Spain is one of the world’s first end-to-end broadcasting experiences with 5G technology from image capture to broadcasting. It has been possible thanks to the coordination and management of the project by SAPEC, a Spanish company that has been accompanied by top-level firms belonging to the UHD Spain organization such as Ateme, Axion, Canon, CCMA, Cellnex, Dolby, Grup Mediapro, Gsertel, Fraunhofer IIS, Hispasat, Rohde & Schwarz, RTVE, Telecom CLM, Televés, TVU Networks, Vestel and Video-Mos, along with other companies such as Acromove, Qualcomm, Spiner and Transparent Edge. The ambitious test has been made possible thanks to the support of the Secretary of State for Telecommunications of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation from Spain. It is the result of an exhaustive work of more than six months, in which the current limits of 5G and cloud processing technology in UHD environments have been explored to identify its main challenges to overcome, as well as the benefits it implies in contexts of limited coverage due to wide network demand.

A six-month project

Each year, UHD Spain, an organization of which SAPEC is a founding member and part of the board of directors, chooses a topic to explore the limits of UHD and generate knowledge that can shed light on this technology that will eventually consolidate in the global broadcast ecosystems. It is an opportunity for the entire industry to set its sights on a new concept that will surely provide opportunities and alternatives in the short term. After betting on bringing UHD to DTT in its first year of life and investigating the NGA (Next Generation Audio) in 2022, UHD Spain decided to focus its attention on 5G twice in a pioneering test: not only would be responsible for transmitting the signals from four cameras but would end with the transmission of the signal made by 5G Broadcast, a standard currently included in the 3GPP specifications. Once the subject matter was decided, SAPEC offered to coordinate this project, which would involve weeks of preparation, analysis, and in-depth study. Thus began a process that led the firm to coordinate several working groups 100% predisposed to study the challenges of each part of the production and distribution chain. The ultimate goal was clear: to offer resilient broadcasting to demonstrate that UHD-HDR over 5G is a plausible reality.

Leveraging the benefits of the 5G private network

Despite the constant progress in encoding solutions, uploading UHD content from four cameras in real time was a major challenge due to network availability. After studying the alternatives available in the market, the UHD Spain team and the strong support of Cellnex, decided to go for a private 5G network with adequate bandwidth to support an upstream data flow of between 150 and 200 Mbps, as well as a downstream of between 50 and 60 Mbps. This network, supplied by Acromove, allowed for sufficient upstream network bandwidth to guarantee the transmission of the UHD signal. The signals came from several cameras provided by Canon: the C300, with cinematic capabilities, and the CR-N700, remotely controlled PTZs. While three of the signals were transmitted via TVU Networks transmission units for content contribution to the private 5G network, another camera was connected directly to a SAPEC SIVAC-ONE encoder, which was connected to a 5G modem. In this way, one more alternative was brought to the table to provide a resilient and effective connection within a 5G environment. The signals received into this private network were connected to the Internet via an FTTH connection ordered from a telecommunications provider using the SRT protocol, which ensured the stability of the data stream transmission in the face of the vicissitudes of the public Internet. After the content was uploaded to the cloud and produced remotely with the TVU Producer tool, it was downlinked back to the Observatory to land in SAPEC’s SIVAC-ONE. This signal was processed to generate a Dolby ATMOS signal in 5.1.4 and then prepared to be distributed to all the alternatives defined by the members of UHD Spain: DTT (DVB-T2), satellite (DVB-S2), Internet (OTT, HbbTV) and 5G Broadcast. Especially interesting is this last alternative, an emerging path that will allow transmitting content simultaneously to 5G devices through mobile antennas. With technology under development, but viable in test environments, these standards are expected to become a reality as vendors begin to unlock features in the first chipsets on the market and government authorities open the door to these new technologies.

Milestones and challenges

After performing several remote tests, the UHD Spain team led by SAPEC was ready for the transmission at the Real Observatorio Astronómico de Madrid. With a complex set-up of the technological infrastructure, given the historicity of the enclave, several on-site tests were performed to ensure the viability of the test. The broadcast of this pioneering experience was an absolute success, especially due to the convergence of technologies brought to the table: contribution with 5G over a private network, remote production with cloud technologies and distribution of UHD content at its best (HDR-HLG and NGA) to the main distribution channels available in the market. This test, possibly the most innovative to date from the point of view of complexity by bringing together all kinds of technologies in a UHD stream, leaves as a legacy a new milestone in the history of SAPEC and UHD Spain, as well as future challenges and lessons that are already being addressed in numerous collective works carried out after the test. Among these challenges to be overcome in the future are the optimization of firewalls, the always complex management of multichannel audio or the added latency involved in cloud production in a live production context.
SAPEC and UHD Spain wrote a new chapter in the 5G world
This pioneering UHD Spain project offers broadcasters and production teams numerous alternatives to produce content from previously unfeasible environments or with methodologies that provide significant economic and environmental savings. Taking advantage of the experience gained from the deployment of the 5G private network, technical teams will find alternatives to transmit content in historical sites such as palaces or museums. Likewise, a producer will be able to set up a UHD program from home, or a television station will be able to rely on a transversal, effective and intelligent infrastructure to transmit its content in UHD through all the channels within its reach. An era full of opportunities is beginning, thanks to the predisposition and availability of the members of UHD Spain, and solutions such as SAPEC’s SIVAC-ONE encoders and decoders. What was an ambitious project just six months ago is now a reality.

About SAPEC SAPEC is a company based in Spain with offices in Mexico, which designs, develops and manufactures reliable video contribution and distribution solutions for highly demanding broadcast and telecommunications environments. Its solutions allow the transport of audiovisual content with professional quality in real time and without limitations either through satellite, fiber optics, IP, radio links…

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