NEP Group’s Private 5G Network Makes Innovation Inevitable
NEP Group is proud to announce its first stand-alone (SA) 5G private network via Broadcast Sports International (BSI). This exciting addition has allowed BSI to develop the MT-UHD (5G NR), its first cellular connectivity product to operate over both public and private 5G networks.
Though the network may be private, it’s not just for us. NEP Group’s proprietary products are a result of our dedication to innovation—pushing the industry forward to bring our clients the highest standard possible.
Private Networks Mean Speed
Because so many people now use the public 5G network, there’s more traffic and more opportunity for a connection to slow. A few years ago, millimetre waves were introduced to expand the network’s capability beyond 4G. Millimetre waves access previously unused parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to deliver data with less than a millisecond of delay.
But when millimetre waves are transmitted using traditional base stations, they don’t travel well through physical obstacles like buildings, foliage, and even rain. Thankfully, it’s possible to set up a private 5G network through small cells, base stations of small size that can be set up just about anywhere.
A private 5G network allows for the highest bandwidth and fastest transmission possible, thanks to a small space with fewer devices trying to send and receive data. In a private network, the same high-quality upload has less traffic to compete with. And if for some reason the public network goes out, the private network provides a secure, reliable connection.
Spotlight on BSI’S Mini-Tx UHD
Broadcast Sports International (BSI), part of NEP Group, deals directly in the Internet of Things; the fact that signal always has to come from physical pieces of technology. BSI’s specialization in the most advanced cameras, microphones, and connectivity solutions is thanks to their investment in wireless technology development to create solutions that connect the world.
In 2020, BSI introduced their proprietary and award winning Mini Tx-UHD, also known as the MT-UHD. Even after almost three years of deployment, it’s still the smallest ultra-low delay wireless UHD transmitter in the world. “Everything we develop [at BSI] gives us an edge over other OB companies,” said Sacha Rossek, BSI’s Lead R&D and RF Engineer. “It’s possible to buy wireless broadcast equipment off the shelf,” Rossek continued, “but not at this size or capability.”
The size of the MT-UHD allows it to attach to any camera, even a drone. Many MT-UHDs are out in the field now, deployed across NEP Group Live Events. Based on these deployments, BSI has made various enhancements to the MT-UHD product. For example, BSI added independent HD encoding (alongside UHD encoding), allowing up to four HD video images to be sent over a single wireless link, with the user able to set the quality expectation for each image.
Over the past year, the BSI USA team has successfully deployed the MT-UHD on a major racing car series. This deployment further incorporated BSI’s proprietary power and data over SDI within the MT-UHD by simplifying the connection between transmitter and on-board cameras.
Additionally, NEP UK chose the MT-UHD as the only solution small enough to provide multi-camera on-board coverage for an electric scooter racing event. The electric scooter races highlighted BSI’s proprietary quick-release SDI connection. For example, a rider’s helmet camera connected to the MT-UHD while allowing the option for smooth detachment during a pit stops or potential crash.
As with all that NEP Group does, these innovations were driven by many of the multi-view, on-board vehicle applications that we specialise in. This product has been designed to evolve with our client’s needs, and still more features are still in the pipeline.
Now in 2022, BSI is putting the 5G version of this product—the MT-UHD (5G NR)—through its the paces at their development facility. Together, NEP Group and BSI are ready to offer new capabilities for further evolution down the road.
Introducing: the MT-UHD (5G NR)
The MT-UHD (5G NR) takes advantage of NEP Group’s first private 5G network—and it’s flexible enough to be supplemented by the public 5G network, too. “NR” stands for New Radio, which was introduced by the 5G standard to signify the technology’s new capabilities.
Each MT-UHD 5G device can take two standard SIM cards. One links to the public 5G network via a standard telco SIM card; the other to NEP’s private 5G network via NEP’s custom SIM card. That way, each device can use whichever network connection delivers the highest quality video at the highest speed, all while maximizing roaming flexibility.
BSI’s 5G unit primarily supports the FR1 band (sub-6 GHz) to achieve wide area coverage, typically used for large venue and outdoor events like music festivals and major multi-sport competitions. Like most smartphones on the market as of this writing, this UHD transmitter can also connect via the new 5G FR2 band—the millimetre wave band.
Future use cases for the 5G MT-UHD go beyond live broadcast and into the studio for premium video, audio, and data connectivity. 5G’s millimetre wave capabilities offer the power to stream higher quality video while maintaining low delay. The millimetre wave band is suited to smaller venues where millimetre wave propagation is possible and studio applications have higher video quality expectations.
“At Broadcast Sports International, we have this incredible technology,” Rossek said. “We want everyone to know about it so we can all use it.” The power of a wireless ecosystem goes beyond its technology. We rely on people to bring technology’s potential to life.