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BBC commences 5G trial for live radio broadcast

In exploring advancements in 5G, the BBC also aims to leverage the 5G trial to extend its reach to rural areas in the UK

The BBC will be launching live radio broadcasts over 5G mobile networks in a public trial which the network claims to be the first of its kind. Using a modified version of the BBC Sounds app and a smartphone, trial participants will be able to receive live radio broadcasts over 5G — the next step up from 4G mobile networks widely used today.

The trial will put live radio onto their smartphones in their pockets, as well as all the on-demand programmes, podcasts and music mixes BBC Sounds is offering.

In a recent statement, the BBC highlighted the importance of using the Internet to deliver programmes and services, and expressed its desire to explore the benefits 5G broadcasting can offer. Live radio broadcasts over 5G differs from live streaming as it works by sending out a single version of a programme over a wide area — and anybody within range can receive.

Kieran Clifton, director of distribution and business development, BBC, commented: “The Internet has changed how people watch and listen to programmes, and we want to bring those benefits to all of our audiences.

“This can be challenging in rural areas, so we’re pioneering new ways of reaching people using the latest technology.

“This trial is a chance for us to learn all we can, so we can continue to provide public service broadcasting to the entire UK.”

The trial, which is aimed to help the BBC reach more people in rural areas in future, will take place in Stronsay, Orkney, and will run for an initial six weeks with possibility to extend the trial period. It is also a part of the wider 5G RuralFirst Initiative, where several other trials will also explore the potential of 5G for rural businesses and communities across the country. 

A 4G/5G network and associated technology have been installed at Stronsay for the trial. Cloudnet, the local wireless Internet service provider, has planned to take over aspects of the technology at the end of the trial in order to provide wireless home broadband services to the island.

“5G RuralFirst aims to identify practical use cases of how enhanced connectivity will benefit businesses and communities in rural areas across the country,” added Nick Chrissos, director of innovation, Europe, Cisco.

“It’s about building a business case for 5G roll-outs beyond urban areas and demonstrating the value of investing in the digital infrastructure serving rural businesses and communities for the benefit of the entire country.” 

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