WWOO, a digital TV station in Boston, is set to conduct the first test of 5G television broadcasting in the US. With approval from the Federal Communications Commission, WWOO aims to revolutionize video viewing habits by sending shows directly to smartphones and mobile devices through 5G technology. This system allows every smartphone to become a pocket-sized TV capable of receiving free broadcasts over the air.
During the test, WWOO will transmit NASA TV, the space agency’s round-the-clock video feed, using custom-made 5G phones specifically designed for this purpose. While standard 5G phones cannot pick up the signal yet, it is expected that compatible smartphones will be available to consumers in about a year if the tests are successful.
Unlike current networks that generate separate data streams for each user’s device, 5G TV broadcasting allows the network to transmit shows only once while enabling multiple viewers to tune in simultaneously. This reduces the network’s burden of generating individual video streams for each user. The 5G broadcast signal operates on different frequencies from those used for standard 5G voice and data services, ensuring that TV broadcasts do not interfere with phone calls or internet service.
In addition to television broadcasting, the 5G network can securely transmit encrypted emergency data to first responders, including police and fire departments. For instance, high-definition video of a police encounter can be shared with other officers or schematics of a burning building can be provided to firefighters. WWOO plans to test this feature in collaboration with the Southeast Massachusetts Regional 911 District.
The introduction of 5G television broadcasting has the potential to transform video viewing on smartphones and mobile devices. It eliminates the need for Wi-Fi or a SIM card, delivering broadcasts directly to phones over the air. WWOO’s owner, Bill Christian, believes that this proof of concept has the potential to be something “very, very cool.”