Why it matters

Streaming video to many devices uses a lot of bandwidth. One way of reducing the bandwidth used is to implement some-kind of broadcast like system. Luckily, in the IP (Internet Protocol) world there is such a system known as multicast, which is designed to be used with wired networks.

Most IP traffic is unicast; a message (packet) is sent to a particular destination and then then an acknowledgement or error message is sent back to the source. In the case of the latter the message is sent again. This repeats until the message is received or a timeout criterion is reached.

Multicast works differently. A broadcast message is sent to everyone on the network and there is no acknowledgement. This is ok on a wired network where packet loss is very low, but that is not the case for a wireless network, where packets are frequently lost.

A mobile phone streaming our Broadcast wi-fi trial.

What we're doing

Global Invacom has produced a prototype system, which takes a satellite feed, adds a FEC (forward error correction) based on Raptor Codes and outputs streams over wi-fi. The streams can be received with a custom app on mobile devices. The theory is that when the error correction implemented is greater than the error rate the stream can received without error.

We are testing the system in our screened room (a metal box with a door), so that we have an environment free radio wave interference. We can use those results to explore the system parameters and performance in a deterministic fashion enabling us to understand and optimise performance.

We are also conducting our first public trial at the Edinburgh Festival 2017 as part of BBC R&D’s yearly technology showcase. We can use this first trial to gather real world performance data. We’ve spent a lot of time with GI ironing out system bugs and tailoring it to our particular needs for EdFest and we’re very close to having a system that will work well enough for a first trial.

BBC R&D - Broadcast Wi-Fi Trials

Our goals

We hope to expand the system for larger audiences and we will continue to optimse the system further. We also would like to carry out more trials, so watch this space!


Successful large scale trials and competitively priced commercially available systems.

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BBC R&D - All of our articles on 4G and 5G including:

BBC R&D - The BBC and 5G

BBC R&D - Broadcasting Over 5G - Delivering Live Radio to Orkney

BBC R&D - 4G & 5G Broadcast

BBC R&D - TV Over Mobile Networks - BBC R&D at the 3GPP

BBC R&D - 5G-Xcast

BBC R&D - 4G Broadcast for the Commonwealth Games 2014

BBC R&D - 4G Broadcast technology trial at Wembley 2015 FA Cup Final

BBC R&D - 4G Broadcast: Can LTE eMBMS Help Address the Demand for Mobile Video?

BBC R&D - 5G Trials - Streaming AR and VR Experiences on Mobile

BBC R&D - 5G Smart Tourism Trial at the Roman Baths

BBC R&D - New Content Experiences over 5G Fixed Wireless Access

BBC R&D - New Audience Experiences for Mobile Devices

BBC R&D - Unlocking the Potential of 5G for Content Production

BBC R&D - Building our own 5G Broadcast Modem

This project is part of the Distribution Core Technologies section


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