Stormzy helps launch EE's 5G network
Written by: Philip Mason & Sam Fenwick | Published:

EE has marked the launch of its UK 5G network with a ‘5G’ powered gig from pop star Stormzy, delivered against the backdrop of Tower Bridge in London. The performance was illuminated by over 200 LEDs linked to the network, from which beams of light were projected 1,000 feet into the surrounding ether.

The event was also live streamed over the network – hosted by radio DJ, Clara Amfo –, using 5G enabled remote production technology. A '360-degree VR experience' of the event was also made available in real time, in the additional launch cities of Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.

Speaking of the launch, CEO of BT’s consumer business, Marc Allera said: “Tonight, we made history, not only by becoming the first network to launch 5G in the UK, but also using 5G to live stream this event to thousands of fans across the UK. Stormzy lit up the Thames – and his fans’ faces – with the energy, passion and charisma that he always brings to his live shows.”

Stormzy said: “Big up EE, thank you for letting me launch your 5G network in the UK. Tonight was sick. I’m honoured to be part of history.”

EE’s 5G network is operational in the six launch cities mentioned above, of this week. Read Land Mobile’s initial coverage of the network here.

The company's network was used on the morning after the launch (30 May) to transmit BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones' live TV segment on BBC Breakfast (which was about the 5G the network launch, see still below) from Covent Garden to the BBC New Broadcasting House.

According to the BBC, this is the first time a public 5G network has been used by a production team for a live TV programme, and demonstrates the potential that 5G has in broadcast production. In this 5G trial only one connection was needed, instead of the multiple 4G connections that are normally required to provide the capacity required by live video feeds, thereby reducing both the complexity and cost of the production.

To make the trial possible, specialised 5G modems were connected to BBC News cameras. The trial also allowed the teams to explore different encoding options to compress the video, allowing it to be sent back to New Broadcasting House, and decompressing it for live playout.

Matthew Postgate, chief technology and product officer at the BBC, said: “This is an excellent example of how the BBC experiments with cutting-edge technology to improve how we make programmes. 5G is a hugely interesting area for us to explore, with potential to reduce the cost and complexity of outside broadcasts, and as a way of delivering content to audiences in the future. The internet will play a bigger role in broadcasting and we’re pioneering the techniques, standards and ways of working to truly take advantage of it.”

Alex Tempest, managing director, Wholesale at BT said: “We are delighted to demonstrate the power and innovation that 5G can bring to the media and broadcasting industry through our trial with the BBC. Whether on the street, in a stadium or on location, 5G provides a new dimension that can deliver the speed, efficiency and reliability that outside broadcasting requires. And gives broadcasters the ability to deploy equipment quickly and with ease, without having to worry about the connection.”

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