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5G and 8K: The Big Buzz During International French Tennis Tournament

Video AppliancesVideo SaaS

5G and 8K are two next-generation technologies that are pushing forward the envelope of innovation for video experiences. In the near future, 5G is expected to play a major role in the delivery of mobile video content. And 8K, on the medium-term horizon, promises to deliver premium content at a resolution that is four to eight times the pixel count of full HD at 8,192 x 4,320 x 60/120.

Not a day goes by without a news article or opinion piece published about the future implications of 5G and 8K. But have they ever been deployed together? Are the technologies complementary? What benefits stand to be gained by leveraging 5G networks for 8K video delivery?

These are some of the questions that the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT), France Télévisions, Orange and technology partners including Harmonic and other partners wanted to address when they recently joined forces to deliver the first ever live 8K broadcast on 5G networks for a premium sports event. It all took place at the international French tennis tournament in Paris.

From May 20-June 9, spectators and tennis professionals had access to never-before-seen 8K live sports streaming and broadcast. The content was produced live and encoded in 8K thanks to a wide range of solutions including 8K cameras live encoders, cloud origin servers and file transcoder for the media processing part. Live content was delivered to 8K TVs and mobile devices leveraging new 5G capabilities on Orange’s network.

What’s unique about this 5G and 8K trial?

This trial marks a huge technology breakthrough, exploiting the opportunities that 5G networks can provide in terms of delivering enhanced video quality. For more details, check out the press release issued by FTV.

Beyond improving video resolution, this project also gave us an opportunity to create catch-up TV and VOD content to a variety of 5G connected devices: TV and mobile. What we were able to achieve during the French tennis tournament was innovative, in the sense, it was done in a very short time period of less than a week to set up the systems onsite and 2 months to plan. Equally impressive is the fact that 16 companies from around the world came together to collaborate. You can find all of the nitty-gritty, technical details on the system deployed and the services delivered in FTV’s blog post.

Proof that SaaS is scalable

During the trial, Harmonic’s VOS® SaaS solution was used to perform:

  • Live packaging and streaming in DASH
  • Packaging live broadcasts into catch-up TV content
  • File-based transcoding from catch-up TV content in order to create ABR in SDR or HDR formats
  • File-based transcoding from VOD sources in order to create ABR in SDR or HDR formats
  • File export in TS for DTH and tiling

The experimentation at the French tennis tournament is proof that VOS SaaS is capable of scaling up to not only support UHD-1 (4K) but also UHD-2 (8K).

Lessons learned

What did we learn from this demonstration? It’s possible to deliver live, catch-up TV and VOD content in pristine 8K to TVs and mobile devices using 5G networks. This is just the beginning of the 5G and 8K journey and a stepping stone to delivering live coverage of future sports events like the Paris 2024 Olympics, at which point in time these technologies will be mature enough to be deployed at mass scale.

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