OPINION AND ANALYSIS
What will the 5G revolution mean for pay-TV?
By Simon Trudelle, senior director product marketing, NAGRA
G currently occupies a curious space – it already feels like an established technology with a clearly defined range of capabilities, but aside from field tests, there isn’t a single consumer in the world who has experienced it yet. Its impact on the world, as yet, is only hypothetical. That said, there are of course plenty of guarantees that have been made; the bottom line being that it will indeed offer much-improved download data rates compared with 4G. As a result, the 5G revolution has already caused a mindset shift; consumers and business users increasingly expect a seamless and robust connectivity experience across all their devices – anytime, anywhere, any applications – regardless of the underlying physical network used. And they’ll only continue to expect more and more as time goes on. Naturally, with that extra bandwidth, and that higher density network, comes the opportunity to better leverage existing commercial and residential broadband infrastructure. But of course, the question for us is: what does 5G mean for the converged world of TV and video streaming? Let’s look at the current situation. Just with 4G, we’ve seen a remarkable take up of video services with consumers in some emerging market bypassing TV to jump to a mobile-first video service. It has also already meant new opportunities in specific markets for pay-TV and video service providers to expand their reach. But beyond simply higher speed, lower latency, and better efficiency, we might also expect to see some other interesting developments. For starters, we’re likely to see an accelerated consumer shift to mobile-first video, especially in emerging markets. We might also expect better quality live video footage, and therefore a proliferation of live content delivered via smartphone apps. Speculation aside, another big question for pay-TV is: will 5G solve the issue many pay-TV operators are having with onboarding adjacency services? At the latest Pay-TV Innovation Forum, a number of digital life innovation areas were identified that would be key to future pay-TV success; home security, home automation, and home entertainment devices. Essentially, these are the extra services that future-proofing pay-TV
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operators should be branching into. 5G may be the technology that unlocks this potential; those adjacency services – powered by 5G – may help differentiate service offerings and enable operators to target new consumer segments. Mass-market take-up is still currently below potential, but 5G could well be the thing that more efficiently connects these newer digital life devices and provides new personalised interactive services – especially for people living in smaller city dwellings. All of a sudden, adjacency services will look much more feasible, and much more appealing. Naturally, this leads us to our third and final question; that of security. More smart home devices for home security, energy management, home automation, entertainment, communications and consumer IT services invariably means more targets for hackers looking to harness “free compute” resources. 5G is bound to lead to more IoT devices in the home, making the issue of security even more central to our day-to-day lives. This could potentially lead to greater risk and higher costs if proper investments aren’t made at the very start. The industry therefore needs to maintain a laser focus on security alongside its investments in new network services. Before we get carried away with the super-powered promise of 5G, pay-TV operators must remain grounded and harness solutions that address every need – in terms of both content delivery and content security, as well as leveraging opportunities to safely launch new digital life services. Operators must rationalise architectures by selecting a scalable, modular, Cloud-based solution to unify all aspects of their content, data and device protection needs – regardless of which network or device they’re delivering content to. Crucially, they must also work with a partner who can deliver a solution specifically designed for converged networks; one that’s easy to deploy and addresses the need for scale and international reach. Ultimately, as we look ahead to a landscape shaped by 5G-powered anytime, anywhere content and seamless services, the key for operators will be to stay on top of threats just as much as the opportunities. n
Get ready, coz here is come - 5G