AT&T teams with ESPN, Ericsson to deliver LTE broadcast at college championship game

DALLAS--AT&T (NYSE: T) used the collegiate national championship football game held here at the AT&T Stadium Monday night as a backdrop to the operator's first live demonstration of LTE broadcast technology. 

AT&T LTE broadcast on smartphone

ESPN content is streamed to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 device using LTE broadcast technology from AT&T during the National Championship football game Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium. (Photo by Sue Marek)

Also known as LTE multicast, the company worked with partners Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC),, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), ESPN, Samsung and MobiTV to deliver two channels of streaming video and one channel of data to 40 LTE-broadcast enabled Samsung Galaxy Note 3 devices. According to Bill Smith, president of technology operations at AT&T, the company used 5 MHz of its LTE spectrum to deliver the video and data streams. He said that the speed of the streams was about 1 Mbps.

Partner Ericsson provided the broadcast network technology while ESPN delivered the content. Qualcomm provided the firmware for the devices, Samsung delivered the Galaxy Note 3 devices and MobiTV made the app that allowed the devices to access the content.

During the game, AT&T's LTE broadcast technology delivered replays and video shot from different camera angles to the devices. In addition, the data stream delivered sports stats and trivia.

Smith said the benefit to using LTE broadcast is that it allocates a portion of wireless network resources to specific content streams that can be accessed simultaneously by compatible devices. That is much more efficient than having several different users download content--for example, an instant replay--and have it delivered individually to each device.   

Smith described this live demo as a "coming out party" for LTE broadcast and said that AT&T wanted to demonstrate this in a venue during a live event so that potential content partners like ESPN and others could see the technology in a realistic scenario. Smith said that many potential partners had been visiting the demo area Monday.

While this is the first time AT&T has demonstrated LTE broadcast, competitor Verizon (NYSE: VZ) conducted a similar demonstration  inside a large white tent that it erected in Manhattan's Bryant Park in New York City, prior to the 2014 Super Bowl.  The company's technology partners included Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm, Samsung, MobiTV and Sequans.

But Verizon does appear to be a bit ahead of the LTE broadcast curve.  The company has said that its entire LTE network is enabled for the technology--which means that it has deployed the necessary software throughout its cell sites. In addition, it has said it is seeding the market with LTE-enabled devices. 

Meanwhile AT&T's Smith said that the software upgrades to the network are not that difficult, adding that the company now is working on determining various business models and use cases for using the technology.

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