5G private network broadcasts Queen’s final departure from Scotland

5G private network broadcasts Queen’s final departure from Scotland

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

A 5G private network enabled live broadcast of video of the journey of Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin from Scotland.

The private 5G Stand Alone (SA) pop up network technology was designed and deployed by the University of Strathclyde and its spin-out company, Neutral Wireless. This connected cameras for international broadcast coverage of the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth II from Scotland.

Strathclyde worked with Glasgow-based outside broadcast specialist QTV to provide the 5G international broadcast feed from the airport in a world first.

“The use of a dedicated 5G private network operating in shared spectrum is believed to be a first for live TV news, broadcast using shared access radio spectrum,” said Professor Bob Stewart, from Strathclyde, who is head of the University’s Software Defined Radio team. “The network operated live for nine hours with no reported interference due to our network and we were honoured and humbled to be able to play a part at such an important moment.”

‘Operation Unicorn’ – the codename of the plan for handling Her Late Majesty’s death should she pass away in Scotland – saw the Queen’s coffin transported from Edinburgh Airport to RAF Northolt by air. This created the need for a high-definition, broadcast-capable, wireless solution that avoided the use of cables across the airport runway, whilst mitigating interference and guaranteeing quality of service.

Using a 5G private network rather than proprietary RF links enabled a range of cameras and other devices in a wider range of locations.

“From the band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland to the RAF’s C-17 Globemaster taking off and carrying Her Late Majesty the Queen from Scotland for the last time, these were breath-taking live pictures broadcast globally from the airport tarmac. The video link on the 5G network wasn’t there as a back-up – it was a live feed to the world,” said Gareth Gordon, CTO at QTV.

The 5G SA network is partially funded by the Scottish Government via the Scotland 5G Centre’s Wave 1 Projects. It was deployed for QTV within 24 hours of the spectrum licence being granted by Ofcom.

“The Scottish Government’s £1.9 million investment in the University of Strathclyde’s 5G initiatives via the Scotland 5G Centre has made it possible for this historic occasion to be broadcast to millions of people around the world,” said Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Business Minister.

“This demonstrates how new technology can help transform Scotland’s economy and society, by enhancing our global competitiveness, facilitating business growth and driving innovation.”

The technology deployed was trialled and developed through a series of proof-of-concept trials in 2022.

“It is great to see the technology and know-how engineered and tested in Scotland on the Scotland 5G rural Wave 1 testbed projects come to international prominence right after the successful IBC middle of nowhere demonstrations in four countries,” said Julie Snell, Chair of the Scotland 5G Centre Board.

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