5G networks are now starting to roll out in major cities across the UK and clearly one of the early applications will be video whether that’s VR/AR, streaming or gaming. It will create new possibilities for creativity on the move. What is it then that 5G has to offer for these applications?

Bandwidth

Tests have shown that 6k video is pretty much the maximum that 4G can achieve. However, because the screen is so close to the eyes, delivering realistic VR experiences needs 8k or even 12k resolution. Only 5G can deliver the rates needed for high-resolution video. 5G is able to deliver 1 – 10 GB’s in raw bandwidth that means it has bandwidth performance that 4G just cannot hope to achieve. Increasingly now gaming is using cloud processing. Google will launch it’s Stadia platform in November this year, a gaming platform that runs entirely in the cloud, and so streaming this to handsets will require more and more bandwidth as the number of users increase.

Edge Computing

As more and more applications are running in the cloud fast processing and streaming of high quality video is required to deliver a realistic immersive experience. One way to do this is to have processing and content delivery close to the point of consumption. 5G has that capability built-in through Multi-rate Edge Computing or MEC. This feature of 5G enables processing and delivery to be off-loaded from the core network to run on an edge server, perhaps in the base-band or another local server near the network edge. Distributing the processing and content in this way will dramatically improve delivery and responsiveness for cloud based streaming content and make gaming more responsive to game play.

Network Slicing

As applications for 5G expand in to new areas there becomes a need to guarantee performance; to know exactly what you will get and when. In Broadcast TV for example mobile backpacks are increasingly being used for in the field coverage of news or sports events that are then relayed to the studio via mobile infrastructure. Such relying however can be problematic using 4G or other networks as these Broadcast TV applications need uncontended bandwidth and this is complex to achieve. 5G is able to deliver the uncontended bandwidth Broadcast TV needs through Network Slicing. Network Slicing allows users of 5G to specify a virtual network with specific performance requirements. Broadcasters are then able to guarantee exactly the performance they need for this demanding application.

Latency

As mentioned above video based applications are increasingly running in the cloud. This can be problematic if the application needs to deliver a responsive user experience, content reacting and changing to user input for example. Humans are very susceptible to any noticeable lag in these types of situations, which can be frustrating or disorientating. Keeping latency, the time it takes to get to the core and back to the handset, to a few milliseconds is then crucial. Only 5G is able to deliver latency in this range, 4G is in the tens of milliseconds, and this combined with MEC will create realistic and responsive experiences for cloud based applications.

5G then embodies a number of technical capabilities that set video and cloud based applications free from the constraints imposed by 4G. It represents a new dawn for video on the move and unleashes a new creative opportunities.