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Plans unveiled for world’s first 5G powered festival

Immersive, hybrid event to be broadcast to remote locations from world-leading venues

Leading organisations from across the UK’s arts, entertainment and technology industries are collaborating to create the first ever hybrid 5G Festival. The 5G Festival will be a showcase of creative talent blended with the power of advanced digital technologies, and broadcast live directly to audiences at remote locations from world-leading venues, as well as producing novel immersive in-venue experiences.

5G Festival imagines the “festival of the future” when artists and audiences can gather and connect both in person and online, with the power of 5G to communicate the “live-ness” of the experience wherever the audience is based.

The collaboration is led by Digital Catapult, the UK-based digital technology centre and 5G specialist, and brings together Warner Music Group, live arts venue and culture organisation Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival (working with Brighton 5G testbed partner Wired Sussex), O2, Metropolis Studios, Sonosphere, Audiotonix, Mativision and LiveFrom.

As part of the wider £200 million 5G testbeds and trials programme (5GTT), funded by the UK Government, the 5G Festival will produce a 5G powered, live immersive collaboration platform for artists. 5G Festival is using 5G and its ability to transmit with low latency (delay) and in ultra-high bandwidth alongside Mativision’s proprietary, network-ready 360-degree content distribution platform which supports immersive visual feeds. Musicians will be able to perform together from different venues at the same time, completely in-sync with one another, with global audiences reached via their preferred device and in-venue experiences.

The core 5G infrastructure is based on Digital Catapult’s 5G Testbed, which spans three sites across Brighton and London, and offers technologically complete end-to-end, standards compliant, commercial and open source network services. This will be interconnected with O2’s public 5G network to support the scale of the project. 5G Festival will also explore opportunities for digital transformation and capability building for the UK’s world-leading live music, festivals and events sector. Finally, The O2 Lab will be developing the customer facing mobile application for the project.

In March 2021, an Audiotonix team led by their live sound and immersive specialist teams from DiGiCo and KLANG:technologies and AoIP network specialists from Calrec, along with Mativision and Sonosphere conducted the first trials at Brighton Dome to experiment with the effects of audio latency on the invited performers’ ability to play together. The amount of delay was dialled up and down to showcase the power of the technology and test the musicians’ and singers’ ability to cope with latency and determine what the delay limits where before a performance fell apart.

The next trials, which will involve musicians in two venues approximately 50 miles apart, will take place during June 2021, with a final showcase event planned for early 2022.

“Covid-19 has denied us all the buzz of going to live shows,” said Jeremy Silver, CEO at Digital Catapult. “5G Festival aims to change our view of how to enjoy a live performance as the project looks to create the world’s first internationally accessible, immersive live festival experience powered by 5G. This ambitious project aims both to help artists collaborate and create new music, and then to enable audiences to see their favourite artist, safely in-person at one of the UK’s best venues or from the comfort of their own home, in a totally new and different way.”

Anthony Karydis, founder and CEO, Mativision, added: “The 5G Festival is a natural evolution for Mativision. We have been producing and distributing live performances as immersive experiences to global audiences for more than a decade, and in the past three years, through our involvement in 5G Trials in the UK and Europe, we have 5G-enabled our proprietary immersive content distribution platform. With 5G Festival, we have the opportunity to develop and deliver a game-changing platform which will offer artists the capability to create and produce music without the limitation of their location and deliver to audiences new, uniquely engaging ways to experience and interact with live performances.”