The Future of Radio is Multi-Platform: Radios need access to 5G for Broadcasting
AER continues to support a multi-platform future for radio: ensuring reception of terrestrial free to air analogue and digital broadcasting, complemented by IP, is crucial to maintain a healthy radio market in Europe. Multi-standard solutions – which allows the listener to access radio via all possible devices throughout the continent – are a positive signal for future developments.
AER supports multi-standard solutions for devices as part of a multi-platform future for radio
New personal devices (e.g. smartphones, car integrated systems, smart speakers, etc.) should integrate analogue and digital broadcast standards with internet radio. The future of radio is multi-standard and multi-platform, including via 5G for broadcasting. Even if the latter might only be commercially useable for radios as from 2030 onwards, action is necessary now to secure the right conditions for radio.
5G for broadcasting – a combination of one-to-one and one-to-many
Broadcasting is the transmission of the same information from one transmitter to many receivers (one-to-many). Mobile connections are usually enabling bidirectional contacts between a device and a server therefore ensuring each person receives tailored information (one-to-one). 5G for broadcasting would combine both as it should enable a one-to-one connection (5G) to switch to a very localised broadcast signal if enough requests for the same programme are sent by devices located in the same vicinity. The main feature of 5G for broadcast must be the “the broadcast privilege” as on terrestrial FM/DAB+ broadcast (such as Free to Air, No SIM, no third-party Gatekeeping, mandatory interactivity/addressability).
5G for broadcasting – enabling flexibility for broadcasters
Broadcasters should have the possibility to create and operate their own 5G for broadcasting infrastructure or via commissioned third parties.
5G for broadcasting – legal guarantees in case of network slicing
Where radios would have to buy a fixed bandwidth from an existing mobile network operator and then manage and operate this “slice” under its control and conditions (with / without subscription, no SIM, but return channel for interactivity), regulation must ensure that radios are reserved enough capacities, and legal conditions are set to allow radios to use sliced spectrum such as ex ante price control, access regulation, no network neutrality risks, integrity and secured network conditions.
5G for broadcasting – spectrum needs
To ensure uninterrupted transmission of programmes anywhere, it is necessary to be able to use frequencies as low as possible (from 470MHz to 700 MHz) – also in order to enable larger and more economically efficient broadcast cells. It is therefore essential to secure at the International Telecommunications Union’s World Radio Conference 2023 spectrum capacity for broadcasting (TV and radio) in Band IV (470-582 MHz) and Band V (582 to 694 MHz) with to be able to serve the population with information, culture and entertainment and grant democratic discourse.
No auctions (of 5G spectrum for radio)
Radio is the most intimate and most trusted medium (Eurobarometer Survey of November 2018 (EB90)). Radios inform, entertain and educate the audience. During manmade or natural disasters, radio is the first – and often the only remaining – tool to inform the public. Most commercially funded radios are SMEs. In their role to deliver trusted, lifesaving and culturally diverse content, radios bare burdensome public value obligations and are therefore in no position to compete with other market players for spectrum.
Complementing the 2017 AER position on radio’s access to infrastructure, AER calls on the RSPG, BEREC, European Commission, European Parliament and Member States to secure the UHF band for broadcasting beyond 2030 and provide legal and economic certainty for radios in case of network slicing.