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The idea of supplementing 5G broadband cellular networks with a broadcasting mode is rapidly catching on around the world. Alongside the option of directly addressing multiple recipients in mobile cells, enthusiasm about creating a high-power, high-tower overlay network (referred to in the following as HPHT) has been growing. This paves the way for broadcast or multicast signals with an enormous range. The possibilities include live transmissions as well as previously distributed on-demand content. But how can such a high-power, high-tower network be technically implemented? One option is to take advantage of existing systems. Many of them are designed to support the UHF range from 470 and 800 MHz, and most of their components are also suitable for the 5G Broadcast standard.
SPINNER’s portfolio spans a wide variety of components that can be inserted between the transmitter and antenna in the mentioned radio stations. In addition to rigid line components, switches, patch panels, absorbers and monitoring couplers, our core product range also includes filters and combiners.
Depending on how an existing radio system is designed, there are various possible scenarios for integrating 5G Broadcast. In the following, we take a closer look at the options for configuring the system between the transmitter and antenna.
SPINNER portfolio for broadcasting stations
5G Broadcast implemented as an autonomous system for transmitting via an antenna that is independent of existing television infrastructure
One or more 5G Broadcast-compliant transmitters are installed and operated at a broadcasting facility independently of the existing infrastructure. If there is only one transmitter, a mask filter is enough. If multiple signals need to be transmitted via the same antenna, they can be bundled using a so-called combiner consisting of 3 dB couplers and mask filters as shown in the graphic above. Other configurations are also possible, however.
5G Broadcast integrated in a TV combiner chain for transmission via a shared antenna
Another possibility is to feed a 5G Broadcast signal into the broadband connection of the TV combiner chain via a mask filter. First, of course, it’s necessary to check how much power can be fed into the broadband input of the system. The aspects that need to be considered also include the power and voltage handling capabilities of the rigid line components and filters. The latter must be checked with especially great care if they carry signals in directly adjacent frequency ranges. This can be the case with two different 5G Broadcast signals or with a preexisting radio signal and a 5G Broadcast signal.
With adjacent-channel operation, it’s also essential to look carefully at the filter tuning in the critical range and adjust it to the new adjacent channel if necessary. If it’s wished to integrate more than one service for 5G Broadcast, a good solution is to use a mask filter for the broadband signal together with a replacement combiner. A configuration of this kind is schematically illustrated in the figure above.
In case none of the TV combiners can be replaced with a 5G Broadcast combiner, there are other options. For example, the combiner chain for the antenna can be supplemented with a combiner that complies with the 5G Broadcast standard. In this case, the new combiner needs to support the total power. Any adjacent channels also have to be checked as described.
5G Broadcast as an independent combiner chain for broadcasting via a shared antenna
This scenario resembles the first scenario with 5G Broadcast as an independent system, with the difference that in this case 5G Broadcast lacks its own antenna. It is implemented as follows: a single filter, a single combiner or possibly a chain of combiners is combined with a series of TV combiners via an extremely broadband, high-performance combiner. The sum signal is then emitted via a broadcast antenna.
As we’ve seen, quite a few things need to be considered when designing infrastructure for 5G Broadcast. But there are many ways to achieve optimal results that flexibly combine the best of both worlds going forward.
We at SPINNER are happy to advise and support you with everything from initial planning to dealing with mechanical and electrical details, backed by a comprehensive portfolio of UHF components.
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