3GPP 5G Broadcast: Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA); User Equipment (UE) radio transmission and reception

On September 29th, 3GPP published the latest version of its technical specs for 5G Broadcast: version 18.3.0 of 36.101 Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA). The updated specs show approval for “LTE based 5G terrestrial broadcast” to operate in a new 108 band (470MHz – 698MHz). 

This updated spec effectively makes all U.S. low-power UHF stations 3GPP-eligible to broadcast using a 5G RAN. The revised specs surfaced a couple of weeks after WWOO-LD – a Boston-area TV station – kicked off the nation’s first 5G Broadcast field trial.

After being granted an experimental license granted by the FCC, WWOO-LD and its partners are using 5G Broadcast initially to test the delivery of select live TV feeds and emergency alerting signals to 5G-capable TV receivers (using 5G FWA) and to Qualcomm-based smartphone reference designs that can filter in UHF frequencies.

Supporters hope the trial is the start of a broader initiative to build a national 5G Broadcast system that taps into low-power UHF frequencies for one-way (downstream-only) services and applications that can complement existing mobile 5G networks.

The broadcast/multicast technology offered by 3GPP specs brings multiple benefits:

  1. Services can be provided over the existing infrastructure and spectrum, often requiring only incremental adjustments to deployed mobile network.
  2. 3GPP broadcast/multicast technology can offload different types of traffic from unicast. For example, streaming of identical or live content. Considering that the multimedia services, especially video, occupies much of the bandwidth, this functionality can enhance network efficiency.
  3. 3GPP broadcast/multicast technology provides scalability of broadcasting services, with large numbers of users or UEs able to access content.

Initial use cases being explored for 5G Broadcast include broadcasting local TV signals to 5G smartphones, transmitting alerts to consumers and delivering large files (including video and other critical information) to first responders.


Startup XGen Network intends to act as a broker for the 5,300-plus US LPTV stations, effectively serving as a one-stop shop for wireless carriers and content owners interested in the proposed, national 5G Broadcast platform. XGen Network was founded by Frank Copsidas, founder of the Low Power TV Broadcasters Association (and former manager of the late James Brown), and Bill Christian, a fellow broadcast industry vet who owns WWOO-LD.

Ateme, a specialist in video compression, delivery and streaming solutions, has announced that it was behind the first transmission of a 5G signal over a licensed broadcast facility, in a proof of concept of 5G Broadcast. Executed by Boston-based, Milachi Media -owned TV station WWOO-LD and wireless technology innovator Qualcomm Technologies, Ateme says the demonstration represents a significant milestone in the U.S. media industry and heralds a new era for video delivery and public safety.

5G Broadcast is also emerging as a potential competitor to ATSC 3.0, the next-gen, IP-based broadcast signaling standard, that is being rolled out to dozens of U.S. markets under the consumer branding of “NextGenTV.”  The former technology has received some critical reaction from  U.S. broadcasters that are big backers of ATSC 3.0. Earlier this month, a pair of execs at Sinclair Broadcast Corp. argued that ATSC 3.0 and 5G Broadcast “are not equal” and warned the industry not to get too worked up over the “hype” suggesting that 5G Broadcast holds an edge because of its ties to 3GPP standards.







New broadcast TV standard ATSC 3.0 “Next Gen TV” to cover 82% of U.S. households by end of 2022





2 thoughts on “3GPP 5G Broadcast: Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA); User Equipment (UE) radio transmission and reception

  1. WSJ Oct 16, 2023: Broadcasters Look for Ways to Ride the 5G Wave
    TV stations hope to tap in to the huge market of mobile customers and move big groups of people back to the broadcast model

    From atop a skyscraper in Boston, a small television station last month started retransmitting a French news broadcast using new fifth-generation wireless signals. In Vienna, an Austrian state broadcaster used 5G technology to beam sports from three towers. And TV stations are planning to run more trials in several other European countries.

    All are part of an effort by television companies to bring broadcast TV into the 5G era. The idea: TV stations send out signals from their own broadcast masts so people can watch big live events on their phones without conventional TV setups.

    For TV stations, the effort offers the chance to tap in to the huge market of mobile customers and move big groups of people back to the broadcast model that dominated 20th-century media. Phone companies, meanwhile, could get a way for big crowds of customers to tune in to popular content without taxing their core cellular infrastructure.

    Those efforts are seeing their fair share of obstacles. The “5G broadcast standard (NOTE: it’s a 3GPP spec, not a standard) has struggled to take off after years of development. Not all TV stations are united in the 5G effort: A group of station owners are urging tech companies to focus on a separate technical standard known as NextGen TV. What’s more, many 5G broadcasts need special equipment and modified smartphones, and chip makers and other suppliers are still trying to get electronics companies to incorporate broadcast-ready features out of the box.

    If the problems get resolved, 5G could one day bring broadcasts to billions of people on the go.

    “We think that this could be a giant business going forward,” says Bill Christian, the owner of low-power TV station WWOO, which started blasting 5G broadcasts in September. “This is just a proof of concept right now, but you have to crawl before you can walk.”

    Christian’s local station in Boston secured a Federal Communications Commission test license to stream a set of experimental feeds that included France24’s English news channel and encrypted video feeds designed for first responders. Until then, the niche station carried a news channel and sitcom reruns.

    “The concept is pretty simple: to broadcast television straight to the telephone,” Christian says.

    Ordinary phone users can’t tune in to much yet. Makers of Android and Apple smartphones have yet to incorporate broadcast-friendly technology into their devices despite support from companies like Qualcomm that supply them with key parts.

    “There’s a bit of a deadlock,” says Klaus Kuehnhammer, chief of technology-consulting firm Bitstem, who has worked on some of the 5G broadcast projects. Smartphone makers are waiting to see demand for the broadcasts pick up before working the technology into their designs, he says.

    Some broadcasters are moving ahead with tests to learn about the technology while they wait for an audience. Austrian broadcaster ORS has tested 5G signals on and off for the past three years, according to its managing director, Michael Wagenhofer.

    Despite buy-in from three TV-programmer partners that let ORS broadcast content over 5G signals, the video streamed has so far been beamed only to a small number of engineers’ test equipment.

    “It doesn’t matter. We could have broadcast anything,” Wagenhofer says, adding that the coming years will yield newer smartphones capable of picking up the broadcasts out of the box, allowing users to see what the technology can do. Several European broadcasters plan to try out coordinated technology trials next year, he adds.

    Ordinary cellphone users might not notice the difference between a wireless internet stream and a broadcast, but wireless-network operators would, says Juan Montojo, vice president of technical standards at chip maker Qualcomm.

    Videos and streaming content can be data hogs for a wireless network operator, because the process creates an individual feed for everybody watching. Telecom companies have learned to juggle millions of video streams at once, but major events can often tax their infrastructure. Anticipating future times of peak demand forces them to beef up their networks in crowded areas like airports, arenas and convention centers, costs that are passed on to customers.

    “Networks are being brought down because everybody’s trying to access the same content” at once, Montojo says.

    A 5G TV broadcast, meanwhile, essentially requires just one feed for all viewers, meaning phone companies would need to handle much less traffic during big events.

    “You would basically tune to that particular channel and you’d just get it,” Montojo says.

    But TV broadcasters are the most interested in the new standard because it gives them a way to use their spectrum to join a 21st-century media ecosystem. Carriers of free-to-air programming around the world have watched as cable companies, satellite operators and internet-media companies grow their audiences and the advertising and subscription dollars that come with them. Direct access to smartphones could help them compete.

    Some major American TV-station groups are unconvinced. Many back a rival standard called NextGen broadcast designed for all sorts of screens aside from smartphones.

    U.S. station owners are eager to spread the technology standard because it can link free over-the-air broadcasts with a smart TV’s home-broadband connection—allowing stations to serve up personalized ads to viewers the same way that digital advertisers already direct their marketing to users online. Stations could serve multiple commercial spots at the same time, allowing an internet-connected screen to air the one that fits its household demographic.

    The technology isn’t backward-compatible, meaning many digital-TV viewers would need to eventually update their TVs or equipment to pick up NextGen broadcasts. Its supporters say the standard is the best building block for companies looking to reach the smartphone, too.

    The NextGen standard should take off because it has more features like ultra-high-definition picture resolution, says Mark Aitken, a senior vice president at TV-station chain Sinclair Broadcast Group, a major backer of the technical standard. It also has a better head start, he added, noting that there will be millions of compatible TV sets in the market by year-end, with future plans to serve screens in smartphones and connected cars.

    “Those are more opportunities to meet viewers in an easy way,” he says, adding that NextGen “at a technical level is clearly better than any other alternative.”

    Drew FitzGerald is a Wall Street Journal reporter in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at [email protected].


  2. Great post! It remains to be seen if “LTE based 5G terrestrial broadcast” will operate in a new 108 band (470MHz – 698MHz).
    Many thanks,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>