SKT to develop 5G-based UHD broadcasting network

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : September 16, 2021, 16:21 Updated : September 16, 2021, 17:49

[Courtesy of SK Telecom]

SEOUL -- SK Telecom, a top mobile carrier in South Korea, teamed up with Cast.era, a joint venture between the mobile carrier and Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a major American broadcasting company, to develop 5G-based convergence broadcasting services through a cloud-based system. Among the convergence systems, artificial intelligence technology will be used to restore old low-resolution TV series and movies to high-resolution content. 

South Korean broadcasters are focusing on establishing a terrestrial ultra-high-definition (UHD) broadcasting network by 2023 as a part of the state project. SKT said in a statement on September 16 that it will commercialize next-generation integrated broadcasting services based on 5G Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), artificial intelligence (AI) technology and cloud virtualization technology.

5G-based MEC, implemented at cellular base stations or other edge nodes, allows rapid deployment of new applications and services for clients. Network congestion can be reduced and applications show better performance as data is processed at edge nodes physically located nearby cellular consumers. 

In April 2021, SKT demonstrated the 5G-ATSC3.0 convergence broadcasting service in the southern resort island of Jeju along with Cast.era. ATSC 3.0 is a UHD broadcasting standard established by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), a U.S.-based organization that develops standards for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC 3.0 allows drivers to watch high-definition videos inside cars while helping connected cars manage vehicle-to-everything (V2X) features via terrestrial broadcasting facilities.

Through the commercialization of the next-generation broadcasting services involving KBS, a state broadcaster, SKT will upgrade the resolution of broadcast videos from full high-definition (FHD) to UHD using an AI-based high-definition upscaler solution and create high-quality videos in real-time. An upscaler solution uses AI technology to enhance the quality of the video. Using 5G's ultra-low-latency technology the next-gen broadcasting service will also help over-the-top service operators reduce the delay of about nine seconds when customers watch real-time TV channels through smartphone OTT apps. 

Data released by global market research firm Statista released in early 2021, showed that South Korea's OTT media market is expected to reach around 3.3 trillion won ($2.9 billion) in 2021. Netflix, the world's most popular OTT service, currently has about 3.8 million paid subscribers in South Korea.

"We will lead the domestic and foreign media market through 5G MEC-based media technology innovation along with Cast.era," SKT's corporate business head Choi Pan-chul, was quoted as saying. Based on the demonstration, the three companies will also set up business plans to utilize the next-generation broadcasting transmission system.
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