Verizon exec: 2014 is 'definite' for launch of LTE Broadcast service

A top executive at Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) confirmed the operator is working to deploy LTE Broadcast next year, though the business case is still being worked out.

"2014 is a definite" for the launch of LTE Broadcast service, Rich DeSantis, executive director of advanced solutions for Verizon Wireless, told FierceBroadbandWireless.

Though the operator has other LTE-related initiatives on its plate as well--for instance, carrier aggregation--DeSantis said LTE Broadband is near the top of the list in terms of priorities. "It's up there. It's definitely a high priority that will be delivered in 2014," he said.

LTE Broadcast, based on evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (eMBMS) technology, enables a one-to-many delivery scheme, The service will deliver a greatly improved customer experience vs. unicast video delivery, said DeSantis.

"We see video as a way to showcase LTE. We see broadcast as another vehicle to showcase video on LTE. So that's why we're being bullish on broadcast over LTE," said DeSantis.

Verizon is currently conducting LTE Broadcast lab trials and is preparing for future field trials. "We're going to be doing obviously the full network testing in the service areas," said DeSantis.

Both of Verizon's lead LTE infrastructure suppliers, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU), are developing the necessary network gear, multicasting software and gateways necessary for the operator to roll out LTE Broadcast.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, publicly discussed his desire to use LTE Broadcast to deliver video services to Verizon's customers during 2014's Super Bowl. "Using LTE...we'd love to broadcast the Super Bowl in the 2014 time frame," he said.

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Debi Lewis emphasized that was merely a service example and did not necessarily reflect a specific commitment on Verizon's part to broadcast next year's Super Bowl to mobile devices. "As a use case for this technology the Super Bowl makes a lot of sense, but there's nothing to announce today," said Lewis.

Venue-specific live event streaming and real-time TV streaming are the chief use cases cited by industry vendors for LTE Broadcast, though there are other potential uses as well. "The business models haven't been defined," said DeSantis, noting there is much to be worked out regarding specific specific content plays Verizon is eyeing.

Some have speculated that Verizon's push to enable LTE Broadcast on its network is related to marketing and joint development agreements the company has with cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks.

DeSantis downplayed that angle, though he said the cable MSOs could use Verizon's LTE Broadcast capability to deliver any content for which they have the necessary rights to broadcast to mobile devices. "They can take advantage of the network, absolutely, but there's nothing specific as far as a defined partnership or anything like that is concerned," he said.

Verizon launched its LTE network in December 2010 and has been rolling it out across the United States ever since. The carrier began working on LTE Broadcast more than 18 months ago.

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