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29 May 2014
LTE broadcast, or “LTE multicast”, is a solution that aims to address video content delivery problems faced by operators, allowing a more efficient use of network resources.
When a large number of people are gathered in one spot, such as
sports events or concerts, there is a big increase in demand
for premium content, and mobile network operators can often
struggle to maintain a high level of service.
LTE broadcast allows operators to handle these spikes in mobile
usage and can deliver popular content using one single stream
of data to large masses of users in venues and specific areas
at the same time. The technology allows an unlimited number of
smartphone users in one location to access video content in
high quality at the same time – without affecting the
operator’s bandwidth and without placing
additional load on the network.
How does LTE broadcast work?
LTE broadcast replaces unicast content delivery with a
single-stream network broadcast mode through an evolved
multimedia broadcast multicast service (eMBMS). In most cases,
a user requests access to content, which is then sent to the
consumer using one chunk of bandwidth.
If two people are watching the same stream, they get two
separate transmissions which uses double the bandwidth of a
single stream. If too many users request the same content, the
LTE network can get overwhelmed.
LTE broadcast sends the same content to a large number of users
at the same time, rather than having the same content unicast
to each user. The technology sets up a single feed that
multiple users could tune into simultaneously, instead of
having to individually distribute exclusive streams for
Where are LTE broadcast services being
In January this year, South Korean operator KT announced the
launch of its LTE broadcast service for customers using the
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 device. The service is named Olleh LTE
Play and it allows devices to run applications like mobile TV
and radio broadcast with minimal delays and disconnection
Australia’s Telstra, together with Swedish vendor
Ericsson, also trialled the technology at the Melbourne cricket
ground during a cricket match at the end of January this year.
The trial consisted of three live video streams delivered to a
series of LTE broadcast-enabled smartphones, allowing
participants to browse between live commentary, highlights and
statistics of the match that was being played before
Telstra estimated that the entire broadcast used a total of 6GB
of bandwidth for the three live streams, rather than 2GB of
bandwidth per channel for each connected user.
Verizon in the US also demonstrated the technology at Super
Bowl XLVIII in February. The US operator announced in January
this year that it has partnered with the National Football
League (NFL) to launch an OTT video network called NFL Now. The
service is expected to be launched this summer and will be
accessible to internet-connected devices and to Verizon
Wireless subscribers through its LTE broadcast platform.
In Europe, Vodafone Germany conducted a live test of LTE
broadcast with Ericsson, Qualcomm and Samsung, in February this
year. The company now claims to be the first European carrier
to trial the new technology, which took place in Borussia
Mönchengladbach’s football stadium in
Also in February this year, Etisalat signed a Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) with Ericsson, which will see Etisalat launch trials
of Ericsson technologies, including LTE Broadcast.
How will LTE broadcast services evolve in the
Operators are expecting LTE broadcast to create opportunities
and drive new revenue streams for video services over LTE.
Possible business opportunities for operators to monetise
networks include the ability to sell content for hour-long time
slots or pay-per-view events at sporting events, like the
soccer World Cup or the Olympics.
However, experts have commented that the right ecosystem has to
be developed. The technology requires new chipsets and software
in devices and it could take some time before handsets with the
right technology are proliferated in the market.
"LTE broadcast provides a great opportunity for mobile
operators to drive new revenue streams for premium
entertainment video services over LTE and meet increasing
consumer demand for exceptional-quality video experience," said
Hakan Eriksson, head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand.
Need to Know,
Melbourne Cricket Ground