5G is a revolutionary technology that will bring about the fourth industrial revolution and have a far-reaching impact on all industries. Verizon, the largest mobile operator in the United States, launched its Verizon 5G Home broadband internet service in 2018. The first commercial cities included Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. China Mobile, as a 5G pioneer, also trialed 5G in 2018 and officially put it into commercial use in 2019. Starting from 2020, some mainstream operators will commercialize 5G on a large scale.
In the 5G era, 5G, AI and 8K technologies will enable vertical industries to meet their service requirements. With the advantages of high speed, high reliability and low latency, 5G is entering our lives and changing our way of life. Its future development will inspire people's imagination and enable services such as smart home, smart community, smart car, smart health, smart wearable devices, smart transportation, smart agriculture, and smart industry. 5G will also drive rapid development of the video industry ecosystem.
Since its inception in 2007, Netflix has developed 150 million paying subscribers, with a stock price increase of 6493%, making it a model for the OTT industry. YouTube, Amazon, iQIYI, Tencent Video, 4K Garden, and Hunan TV are also developing rapidly. Content is king. Besides content operation, these OTT players also value content production to avoid restrictions on content sources. 5G provides a guarantee for 8K video content delivery, and its development will make those companies that produce high-quality video content more and more valuable.
The content security industry is created to protect the copyright of content providers and the business operation of operators. Conditional access system (CAS) is used to protect broadcast data, while digital rights management (DRM) is designed to protect the OTT content, such as Irdeto, Verimatrix, Nagra, Synamedia, PlayReady, and Widewine. In the 5G era, content authentication will be easier, and bidirectional authentication works for both broadcast and OTT content. Google is expected to offer free Widewine CAS in 2020 after the launch of Widewine DRM. Although there is still a long way to go before formal commercial use, it will be more and more difficult for companies that rely heavily on content protection services.
Before 5G arrives, 8K content is transmitted through satellite or cable. Japan's NHK launched 8K UHD channels on December 1, 2018 and planned a live broadcast of 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 8K resolution. In the 5G era, 8K or higher resolution content can be transmitted through 5G networks, which facilitates home access.
The 8K UHD Video Industry Conference themed "leading 8K era" was held in Shenzhen in November 2019. 8K is the new-generation UHD video technology and key innovation of visual experience that will bring about profound changes in the entire video industry chain. Integrating and interacting with AI and 5G, 8K will give birth to a great many new products, new industries and new business models, and become a new engine to lead economic and social changes. These changes include 5G network transmission, core components R&D (video capture, editing, transmission, decoding, and display), device capability upgrade (TV set, set-top box, panel, and AR/VR), service platform upgrade, and auxiliary industrial applications.
While delivering a superior UHD audio and video experience, 8K also promotes the development of new technologies. The terrestrial transmission of 8K data through HEVC has been restricted by the bandwidth. Standardization organizations such as MPEG and ITU-T have started research into versatile video coding (VVC), the next-generation codec that is 30 to 50% more efficient than HEVC. Core chip technologies are also being developed, such as high-end COMS image sensor chips, video data compression chips, and transmission chips. The chip packaging process is moving towards 12 nm or higher, and CPU has built-in multi-core processor with powerful processing capability. The display technology tends to be a large-size, high-performance P120 smart panel that supports high dynamic range (HDR) image specifications.
ZTE will launch the 8K smart set-top box (STB) with built-in 5G and DVB receiving module in 2020. The STB equipped with a built-in data encryption module can receive 5G or broadcast data (audio/video), and adopts the high-performance codec processing chip solution. With the Google Android operating system, it can output high-quality audios and videos after descrambling and decoding. The STB itself has intelligent learning and management functions capable of intelligent classification of content, image beautifying, far-field voice, and video adaptive processing for best video effects. It can be connected to home devices such as mobile phones, air conditioners and refrigerators to implement smart control.
The significance of the 5G era lies in integration. Various industries in the video industry ecosystem tend to be more integrated, gathering the power and intelligence of integration to provide users with innovative experience. ZTE's 5G+AI+8K STB solution is an example of such integration. ZTE has always taken an open mind to build the 5G video industry ecosystem (Fig. 1), aiming to promote the healthy development of smart home ecosystem. As a major international provider of smart home solutions, ZTE will continue the collaboration with industry-leading companies such as Google, Amlogic, Netflix, Irdeto, Verimatrix, and Nagra in many fields to meet the opportunities and challenges in the 5G era.