The BBC plans to test an innovative method of delivering broadcast content to 5G devices in rural areas. The intention is to demonstrate the use of a general purpose 5G network to deliver radio broadcasting, a service which has traditionally relied on an application-specific (i.e. terrestrial broadcast) network. An important part of this would be to explore business model viability; for example, could the hosting of radio (and maybe TV) broadcasting on a 5G network improve the economics of rolling out 5G to traditionally underserved areas?

The BBC believes that all broadcast delivery will be IP-based in the long term and 4G doesn’t fully deliver on the needs of the TV and radio industries. Therefore, 5G RuralFirst will test whether 5G, as currently specified, is capable of delivering radio and TV in a variety of environments.

5G RuralFirst is providing a testbed to ensure that the technologies being developed are fit for that purpose. Long-term, the BBC believes that most of IP radio and TV distribution will be delivered by fixed networks, but there will be an important role for 5G in ensuring connectivity is as close to universal as possible, especially in areas where wired connections will deliver the requisite bandwidth or coverage.

In 5G RuralFirst, the initial step is to validate the ability of 5G to deliver broadcast radio, with the ability of an IP-based network.  With this, comes the opportunity to personalise content delivery. This is the first step in what will be a long journey to enable delivery of all radio and TV over IP (including 5G) – across the whole of the UK.