China had built 600,000 5G base stations by September 2020. Large-scale 5G commercial use of 5G networks by operators, gigabit fiber to the home, and mature commercialization of Wi-Fi 6 all show that the era of full-gigabit networks has completely entered.
According to scientific statistics, about 80% of the information that reaches our brains comes from vision and 10% from hearing, so videos have always been the focus and foundation of digital services. With the advent of full gigabit networks, video business has ushered in a new era. Both short video apps like TikTok and Kwai and IPTV/OTT TV apps of operators are developing rapidly. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the number of IPTV users (including OTT TV users of operators) in China had reached 312 million by the end of October 2020.
5G networks have three basic features: greatly enhanced mobile broadband, massive connections with low power consumption, and ultra-reliable low-latency communication. These features greatly guarantee ultra-high definition (UHD), low latency and large capacity for video services, especially in the ecosystem field like video capture, editing, broadcasting and transmission, which directly promote the application transformation to new audio and video services such as VR, AR, multi-viewpoint video, free-viewpoint video, and holographic display. The fixed-line fiber network based on the rapid development of optical components has unique features of large bandwidth, low latency and long distance as well as low deployment cost, guaranteeing the transmission and distribution for UHD video applications. Wi-Fi 6 features ultra-high bandwidth of 9.6 Gbps, low power consumption of access terminals, and AP capacity up to four times of Wi-Fi 5, allowing for concurrent access of more terminals. Wi-Fi uses channel space multiplexing to support multi-AP deployment in a closed high-density environment, and its smart networking capability also reduces the requirements for home cabling.
The growth of video services also poses higher requirements for networks. The UHD video services such as 8K videos require high bandwidth (80 Mbps in the case of P30 frame rate, H.265 coding, and 8-bit color), and real-time services such as industrial control or remote health care require an end-to-end ultra-low latency at millisecond level.
ZTE's new big video solution consists of two parts: an integrated big video platform that provides service support, and application services in three scenarios such as 5G live TV, cloud VR, and live video (Fig. 1).
5G live TV:
It includes multi-viewpoint video, free-viewpoint video and VR/ HD live broadcast. Multi-viewpoint video refers to shooting a game or event inside a venue at different perspectives and playing the videos via a smartphone or the combination of STB and TV. Free-viewpoint video means to deploy several cameras in a circle for video shooting. After processed by the platform, the videos are played via a smartphone or the combination of STB and TV. VR and HD live broadcast means to deploy VR cameras or ordinary cameras for live broadcasting.
It includes naked-eye VR, 8K VR field of vision (FoV), and VR cloud games. Naked-eye VR is based on the integrated big video platform. 360-degree VR videos are ingested and then played via a smartphone or the combination of STB and TV of IPTV/OTT. The operations can be performed through the remote control or touchscreen. For 8K VR FoV, a VR packager is deployed to generate FoV segment files that are processed by the integrated big video platform and then played via a standalone VR headset or the combination of STB and TV of IPTV/OTT. The FoV technology can greatly reduce bandwidth requirements. In VR cloud games, a strong-interactive video system is deployed on the integrated big video platform, running through a standalone VR device or the combination of STB and TV of IPTV/OTT. The standalone VR device can cast the game pictures to the TV screen for simultaneous display.
It contains industrial live broadcast, live streamed conference, and interactive live broadcast. Industrial live broadcast includes VR live broadcast and HD live broadcast. There are slow live broadcast such as cultural and travel live broadcast and daily life live broadcast, as well as fast live broadcast such as provisional outside events and online celebrities live stream while walking. Live streamed conference integrates video conferencing capability to support real-time live streaming of a video conference held in different places by an enterprise, so that more users with access permissions can connect to the integrated big video platform for online viewing. Interactive live broadcast enables live education, supporting online teaching for teachers and students. In addition to real-time audio and video interaction, there are many other functions to enhance teaching and learning, including screen sharing, instant messaging, online attendance and raising hands. Students with access permissions can connect to the integrated big video platform for online learning or watching the recorded teaching videos for review.
The integrated big video platform adopts a hierarchical architecture of platform capabilities and scenario services based on the cloud support environment. The platform capabilities expose the services through the gateway, and the service layer calls the platform service to implement fast service development, debugging and deployment in multiple scenarios.
ZTE has commercially deployed its new big video services in many projects. It offered 5G live TV for the 2nd National Youth Games of China in 2019, launched a successful commercial platform for live streaming of scenic spots for the Lvmama Tourism in 2020, and helped China Mobile successfully hold the 5G+ Smart Cultural Tourism Development Forum in Yan'an in October 2020.
4G changes life, but 5G will change society. As gigabit optical networks and Wi-Fi 6 are widely adopted, the technologies and application scenarios of big video over full-gigabit networks are developing rapidly. This will promote the video business towards ultra-high definition, ultra-low latency, immersive and multi-dimensional development. The diversity of video technologies and applications will also pose new requirements on full-gigabit network construction. ZTE has served hundreds of millions of users with its IPTV/OTT products, and its new big video services based on the integrated platform will certainly contribute to video applications in various industries.