“Right from the start, video compression was a crucial challenge to be able to transmit videos at 3G speeds without reducing quality.”
For a long time, streaming live content required complicated infrastructure. To film and broadcast a live report from a foreign country, journalists and camera crew were needed, as well as a production team and a van featuring a satellite antenna. This equipment was used to send back recorded footage to the home country’s media control room for broadcasting on the station.
That era has come to an end. In 2008, the five founders of Aviwest wagered that cellular networks could transmit live videos. Their first users were 24-hour news stations, who were quick to realize the potential of an ultra-compact system embedded in the camera itself. With the roll-out of 3G, followed by 4G, these practices are becoming the norm for large media groups, as well as for small audiovisual production companies. Aviwest has subsequently become a world-renowned player in this field.
A Clever Combination of Technologies
Live streaming via cellular networks is cheaper, more flexible and higher quality. It is now not only possible to transmit HD images, but also UHD images (six times the resolution of HD). As Ronan Poullaouec, Aviwest CTO, explains: “Our solution integrates the latest digital coding algorithms. Right from the start, video compression was a crucial challenge to be able to transmit videos at 3G speeds without reducing quality. In addition, cellular networks came with variable speeds, but without bandwidth guarantee. This is particularly true of places with large crowds, such as concerts, sports matches, etc. For professionals, we had to make the transmission robust, regardless of the environment or the number of users on the network. With this solid technological foundation, our solution has expanded to cover increasingly complex and demanding needs.” Where 3G and 4G have revolutionized the way the media works, 5G is set to transform the sports industry.
Live Truly Does Mean Live
Even today, due to the frequent use of satellites, sports TV broadcasts suffer from high latency. This means there is a delay between what is happening live and what you see on the screen. “With 5G, we are able to send all camera feeds directly and almost instantaneously to the media control room, which is sometimes thousands of miles away in the station’s studios. The entire production team no longer needs to be on-site. This advancement proved to be critical during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions. However, it is likely that these use cases will continue into the future, as they cut costs for production companies.” Aviwest’s 5G Live Remote Production solution relies on better network availability, lower latency and gigabit speeds. When standalone 5G is rolled out, latency will be in the range of milliseconds and slicing will provide professionals with dedicated bandwidth, even in a packed stadium. Racing cars will also be equipped with 5G cameras to stream immersive live videos.
Aviwest is relying on the Orange 5G Lab teams in Rennes for the final stages of developing the solution. Ronan Poullaouec notes that “over the past few weeks, we have been able to test our equipment, check assumptions and demonstrate future use cases that will be adopted by stations as early as 2022 for the Beijing Winter Olympics. Using testing infrastructure on the carrier side of the field is very useful, as it is close to our R&D labs and allows us to benefit from the insights that Orange experts have on 5G. A partnership like this makes us more competitive because the second that the networks are rolled out, we are already ready to serve our customers in the best possible way.”Orange and Aviwest have been working together ever since the carrier invested in the start-up through one of its investment funds several years ago. As a result, Aviwest was previously able to conduct 4G experiments from the start of the partnership. With its new 5G-based solution, Aviwest is trusted by sectors including media, sports events, entertainment and all operators that offer live streaming remotely from their media control room.