Thierry Fautier

By: Thierry Fautier on March 4th, 2019

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How 5G Could Impact Mobile Video Delivery

The ways in which video content is consumed and delivered have been totally transformed over the last decade. Did you know that more than 75 percent of worldwide video viewing is mobile? It’s pretty incredible when you think about it. Video consumption on mobile devices will continue to increase and, as it does, 5G networks will play a major role.

5G is expected to be a game changer in the mobile space, maybe even more disruptive than the transition from 2G to 3G.


One of its leading benefits is that it offers a huge step forward in spectral efficiency, cost per bit, delivered throughput and latency.

Another advantage of 5G is network splicing. With network splicing, the features and performance of the network will adapt per session to the service provisioned.

This blog will delve deeper into what 5G means for the future of mobile video, answering important questions, like whether 5G can scale and how operators can prepare for this industry transformation.

How will 5G shape the future of video content? 

5G offers a massive network capacity, which means operators have an opportunity to provide more bandwidth (>100Mbps) per user and serve more sessions at scale (in the hundreds of millions of subscribers). Today on a 4G network, you can only achieve this level of performance when the cell is nearly unoccupied.

What does this mean for the future of mobile video? This means that high-quality full HD (1080p60) is now within reach. You can say goodbye to the poor SD experiences provided at scale today when zero rating is activated by MNOs. It also means you can start dreaming about launching UHD services on 5G, but this will require a higher resolution on the terminal side. Today, most devices are still 1080p, while Samsung and high Apple® screens support 1440p resolution.

Is 5G deployable?

5G was tested for mobile production during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and it shined bright by providing powerful backhaul for mobile cameras worn by athletes, with low delay. Since 5G offers plenty of network capacity, it also enabled an 8K FoV capture of the content (field of view application) and multi 4K cams (free viewport application). All of this is very exciting news for the sports world. 5G users were even able to interact with content on mobile devices.

Can 5G scale?

Scalability has long been an issue in the video distribution environment, especially in sports stadiums and arenas. Operators have tried eMBMS, but this technology is not deployed at scale (apart from in Australia and Korea).

All of this is set to change. With the eMBMS, 3GPP release 14, operators will be able to transport free-to-air video over 5G networks. This is expected to help scale up for live events and in some cases, be an alternative to a terrestrial transmission with a 5G one.

Given that it didn’t work for 4G, why will eMBMS be successful with 5G?

First of all, it’s highly likely that the network and the devices will support this feature at launch - which was not the case for 4G. Secondly, there is more network capacity with 5G (basically 10x more), which would enable this type of service.

More details can be found on 3GPP portal.

How to prep for 5G today

So what can an MNO do with 5G right now?

Looking at Verizon, a company that brings 300Mbps to the home for $50 a month bundled with YouTubeTV, the writing is on the wall. 5G will first be a substitution to fiber in remote areas. This move will mainly help MNOs regain the 10 to 15 million broadband subscribers they’ve lost to cable operators in rural U.S. areas. Over the long term, it will also be used to enable MNOs to offer an alternative to the cable MSOs for the mainstream fixed broadband market.

In 2019 expect to see more fixed broadband deployments for 5G, with Mi-Fi-type devices that will could very fast and reliable internet to the homes where there is coverage. You can anticipate other applications, such as fast broadband to phones, or immersive use cases (i.e., FoV, free viewport, VR) in 2020 and beyond.

At Harmonic, we think the future is bright for 5G and mobile video. Harmonic has already deployed its VOS® cloud-native media processing software and media processing as a service for 4G applications such as Telkomsel. It can be adapted to 5G, just by scaling the resolution and the number of sessions. As it is a native cloud architecture, some of the functionalities can be ported at the edge of the network in the MEC architecture.

About Thierry Fautier

As Vice President of Video Strategy at Harmonic, Thierry Fautier is in charge of defining and driving the execution of the long term strategy of Harmonic’s video business. In addition, Fautier is the current President of the Ultra HD Forum, the global organization responsible for promoting market adoption of UHD by defining industry best practices for the phased introduction of the wide set of technologies that will facilitate the next-generation viewing experience.