China Mobile edges ahead in Asia’s push for 5G-delivered video

Asia-Pacific countries continue to lead the pack in showcasing 5G-delivered video, demonstrating not just superfast speeds but the diverse new formats and features that the new generation of wireless technology promises to enable.

China’s lead was evident this week as China Mobile teamed with ZTE to claim the crown of delivering the country’s first 5G live TV sporting event, boasting three unique cases supposedly specific to 5G – multi-angle viewing, free viewpoint and flexible zooming. Taken together, these features and their enabling technologies have the potential to alter the mobile viewing experience as we know it.

China Mobile provided IPTV subscribers with multi-angle Ultra HD viewing of the country’s National Youth Games via its live streaming app, supported by a range of technologies from ZTE. These included the vendor’s Digital Intelligent Indoor 5G-QCell system, supported by Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), low latency encoding and location-based services to shrink live end-to-end latency down to under one second.

China Mobile’s reliance on ZTE in the 5G TV race is just part of a multi-supplier approach to 5G and video. For instance, Huawei and China Mobile have also collaborated on video ventures. Just before the turn of the year, the two companies – alongside China Mobile’s entertainment content subsidiary Migu – claimed the first instance of a true 4K UHD live broadcast using 5G network slicing. Huawei described ‘real’ 4K UHD as a resolution of 3840 x 2160 at a frame rate of 50fps.

The project beamed UHD signals to the Migu videoconferencing cloud data center for production and distribution through a 5G network slice – established by China Mobile’s Shanghai unit and Huawei. At the same time, it says, the first application of 4K live broadcasting was achieved through this end-to-end network slice. However, the broadcast wasn’t being beamed into homes, but right back to a 4K screen onsite at the music ceremony.

Data out this week from IHS Markit puts Asia’s lead into perspective, putting South Korean operator LG U+ miles ahead of overseas competition with median 5G download speed of 426.4 Mbps. The 5G First Look Report has US operators at a fraction of this, with Verizon on 67.8 Mbps, T-Mobile 63.3 Mbps, AT&T 62 Mbps and Sprint 45.7 Mbps. SK Telecom recorded speeds of 286.9 Mbps and KT came in third at 163 Mbps, although the research did not measure 5G speeds from any Chinese service providers.