At Roland-Garros, the future is now: Orange unveils new video technology with 5G

3D images, 8K, 360° video, virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and more, including on mobile devices: the future of video applications has never been brighter and it will be driven by the upcoming roll-out of 5G networks. At the French Open at Roland-Garros stadium, Orange and France Télévisions are revealing a glimpse of the revolutions to come by showcasing live 8K content retransmission via an experimental 5G network deployed with Nokia.

A live demonstration of the multiple possibilities that 5G opens up by providing high-performance for video applications.

For the general public, video is arguably the most exciting development out of the many areas of innovation that will demonstrate 5G’s capabilities. New advancements are emerging, including 8K resolution, which promises to be a major leap forward and offer a more immersive experience in the consumption and display of ultra-high definition content, with complex 33-megapixel images.

A world premiere

The audio-visual production and broadcasting sector has already begun to transition to 8K. France Télévisions is a media pioneer in France for the new format, and Roland-Garros is a life-size playground for exploring its potential. Last year, the French audio-visual group carried out its first 8K capture tests during the Grand Slam tournament. This year, in partnership with Orange, a new milestone has been achieved with the live transmission of the Philippe-Chatrier court matches in 8K and 5G throughout the competition. A world first: 8-hours a day of continuous live broadcast during a two-week event.

It is also a practical demonstration of the many possibilities that 5G opens up in terms of performance, quality of service and flow segmentation and prioritisation.

An on-site experimental network

For this project, Orange worked with Nokia to deploy an experimental 5G network on site in anticipation of the event. The network will operate at 3.6 – 3,7 GHz, and the technology deployed includes two antennas installed on the sidelines of the Philippe-Chatrier court. A use case is being presented during the tournament with the live transmission of matches on the centre court, captured by 8K cameras of France Televisions, on 8K 70 and 80-inch TV screens set up on the Orange and the public audio visual group stands. “5G provides new functionality for segmenting and securing flows in isolation, with the appropriate service capacity to meet each need” said Jean Pierre Casara, Orange 5G Innovation Expert. When the new mobile phone standard is rolled out, a stadium like Roland-Garros will be filled with spectators using their 5G smartphones and AV professionals broadcasting interviews and live reports using the new mobile network. The objective is to ensure that network availability and performance are not negatively impacted when it is being used by many people for different activities. “This demonstration will sharpen our understanding of customer needs and allow us to better understand this concept in practice in preparation for its future implementation.”

A complex chain and technical challenges

France Télévisions brought together many French and international partners for this event and developed the technical video architecture set up to support the demonstration, including the core encoding link of the device, to support this new image format to Orange’s 5G antennas. For its part, Orange has chosen Nokia’s 5G platform to broadcast these programmes live on the stadium and 5G Oppo’s mobiles as a modem connecting TV terminals to 8K TV sets in the demonstration stands.
The technical challenge is made even more complicated by the fact that the complete interoperability of 5G equipment is still in its infancy, as the work on standardisation was only finalised this past December.

5G, the launch pad for new video uses

This demonstration illustrates how 5G is already shaping the future of video. “5G networks will support the bandwidth levels necessary for the implementation of 8K, as well as for the new formats that will emerge or become more widely available in the future,” concludes Jean-Pierre Casara. “The challenge for networks is to ensure that this dynamic is effectively supported with enhanced capacities and performance.”

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