Big four link up in LTE broadcast alliance

28 April 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Verizon, KT, EE and Telstra form LTE Broadcast Alliance to promote more efficient video streaming on 4G.

The LTE Broadcast Alliance will push the LTE-B standard for the use of 4G mobile communications to deliver streaming media to all mobile users in one area – rather than sending separate streams to each customer. 

KT became the first operator in the world to launch a commercial LTE-B service in January 2014. The service covers seven baseball stadiums and major subway lines of Seoul and Busan. 

Telstra undertook the world’s first stadium broadcast using LTE-B in January 2014. The company demonstrated the technology again at the National Rugby League grand final in October 2015.

Mike Wright, group managing director of networks for Telstra, said: “We have already seen some of the benefits of LTE-B to both mobile operators and customers, so we are looking forward to working with some of the world’s leading players in this space to ensure the technology is adopted globally, which is essential for continuing to deliver a high quality video experience for our customers.”

The four companies pointed out that video is the main driver for traffic increases in mobile networks. LTE-B, also known as evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS),saves spectrum and network capacity. 

Parissa Pandkhou, director of product development at Verizon, said: “Since 2012, Verizon has been dedicated to LTE-B, and in 2015 achieved commercial availability across our entire 4G LTE network. The LTE-B Alliance will help establish and expand the benefits of the service to other technology segments, increase device penetration, and unearth even more use cases for eMBMS.”

As well as supporting peak-time customer video consumption, LTE-B has the potential to send weather warnings and critical communications for public safety, as well as enterprise group communication.

It can also become a service platform for IoT connectivity, communicating to many devices at the same time, and connect digital signage more efficiently. 

Matt Stagg, head of video strategy at EE, said: “Initially we focused our LTE-B efforts on the benefits for live and linear video, and we will launch a live service in 2017.”

EE trialled LTE-B at the 2015 FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, in partnership with the BBC, allowing HD broadcast of multiple camera angles and replays to mobile devices in the stadium. 

“Now, as part of the LTE-B Alliance, we’ll be focused on developing use cases for critical communications services, internet of things, and a 5G future,” said Stagg. “The Alliance will provide awareness of the importance of this technology, and ensure that the benefits can be realised as soon as possible.”