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The 8K Monitor Talks to TVU Networks About Using 5G to Produce and Distribute 8K Content in China

5G networks are not only coming, they are already here. One of the novelties will be vastly greater bandwidth from the use of new millimeter radio wavelengths. We never miss an opportunity to explore technologies that will bring 8K to market cost-effectively. So, when we saw a TVU Networks’ Press Release a few weeks ago about using these new 5G millimeter wavelengths, we got Jeff Wu, TVU Networks, Vice President of Solutions, to tell us more about how this is all coming together in China.

TVU Networks participated in a demonstration inside the China Unicom booth during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) exhibition in Shanghai. The demo showcased a live 5G mmWave transmission using a 5G-based private network in the cloud with two, portable TVU 5G Rack Routers. TVU transmitted live, 8K video over 5G within the booth.

8K Monitor: Are 5G millimeter-wave cells needed for 8k real-time (or backup) camera-to-cloud or camera-to-facility? How would it be configured? (bandwidth, codecs, frequencies, bonding? etc.)

Jeff Wu: Compared with 4K, 8K requires a much higher network bandwidth. Our 8K content is currently based on HEVC and AVS3/VVC/H.266 for encoding and transmission. We usually transmit with an 8K encoding bitrate between 80Mbps and 100Mbps.

Based on what is now commonly used commercially with 5G Sub6 (6GHz frequency) networks and because of limited frequency resources, we recommend using TVU Networks’ patented IS+ (Inverse Statmux Plus) technology. This approach offers multi-link data bonding technology to implement Sub6 5G for infrastructure sharing between multiple operators. Network bandwidth bonding ensures stable transmission of 8K content.

At the same time, we can already support 8K+5G millimeter-wave network transmission. At present, millimeter-waves are mainly between 24.25GHz and 29.5GHz (n257, n258, n261​) frequencies, providing network bandwidth that exceeds Sub 6 by combining the technology of TVU Networks’ IS+. We can also implement millimeter-wave and Sub 6 multi-link network bandwidth bundling to improve further the applicable scope of 8K content and thus ensure stable, high-quality transmission.

8K Monitor: Is 5G being considered for contribution links? How would it be configured?

Jeff Wu: At present, high-end customers in the Chinese market (local and national media companies) have already developed UHD program production. Some customers, such as CCTV and the General Administration of Sport in China, are already discussing the business development of 4K production and 4K/8K mixed production. It is also being proposed that 5G be used to create contribution links for UHD content.

For this type of contribution use case, our TVU One 5G+4K mobile transmitters already provide mobile 5G+4K content contribution for users in China. We also offer the TVU 5G Router (Sub6+mmWave multi-link data bonding.) When combined with a third-party 8K encoder, the solution provides an 8K content contribution.

8K Monitor: Who is thinking of developing or deploying production of contribution 8K/5G links?

TVU Networks: There are currently two types of plans for deploying 8K services with 5G in China:

The first is for the high-end sports market. A representative example is, of course, the Beijing Winter Olympics that will be staged in 2022. The planning here will include the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, Olympic Broadcasting Company (OBS), the network operator (China Unicom), and core broadcast production teams (CCTV, etc.), who will all participate in the construction together.

The other plans are for 8K UHD channels, 8K public outdoor displays, 8K cable TV, and experimental IPTV plans that started in 2020 in China.

In Chengdu, in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, 1000 m2 of 8K ultra-high-resolution screen is part of the country’s “100 Cities, 1,000 Screens” (100 cities with 1,000 large 8K screens) ultra-high-definition industrial project.

The 8K TV household plan in China encourages 300,000 people in 10 cities to upgrade from 4K channels to 8K UHD.

The project is mainly coordinated by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, National Radio and Television Administration, China Media Group, major operators, and various upstream and downstream 8K industry companies.

TVU 5G Rack Router with six embedded 5G modems is designed for remote live video production, file transfer, and emergency communication applications.

8K Monitor: What are the challenges and benefits of 8K/5G links?

Jeff Wu: The combination of 8K/5G brings many benefits and challenges. First, for the viewing experience, where 8K provides picture clarity and quality far beyond 4K’s capabilities.

At the same time, thanks to higher resolution and bandwidth, 8K/5G can also bring new media services. Combining 8K/5G with VR/AR/MR technologies, users will enjoy a much more immersive and interactive audiovisual experience.

8K/5G also brings more business and technical challenges that require mutual collaboration and upgrading upstream and downstream links of the entire media industry. The pressure on the audiovisual production system and the 5G transmission system is enormous. Experience in broadcasting and TV transmission technology and as well as mobile communication network expertise are needed. Combining 8K and 5G can provide a great deal to this challenging but exciting market.