EE to partner BBC in UK's first live LTE Broadcast trial

UK-based EE is set to become the latest European mobile operator to carry out a live trial of LTE Broadcast technology over its LTE network, following similar moves by KPN in the Netherlands and Vodafone in Germany.

EE will be the network partner of UK broadcaster BBC, which announced it would carry out a number of trials including broadcasting content live over LTE networks during the Commonwealth Games, which start on July 23 in Glasgow. Huawei and Qualcomm are also involved in the trial.

As was the case in Germany and the Netherlands, a large sporting event is being used to test how LTE Broadcast services based on evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (eMBMS) can be used to deliver video to multiple users. Indeed, many industry observers agree that events will be the starting point for revenue-generating opportunities for LTE Broadcast, with other use cases following in time.

BBC Research and Development noted that handheld devices are an increasingly popular way of consuming BBC programmes, but said conventional streaming over mobile networks can buffer or freeze at times of heavy congestion, as content needs to be sent individually to every user.

"4G broadcasting offers an alternative to this, allowing live streams to be transmitted once over the mobile network to a large number of users simultaneously," the company said in a release. "Not only does this offer potential audience benefits due to the increased quality and reliability, it can also be a more efficient way to deliver popular shows and live events to audiences."

Other BBC R&D trials to be carried out during the games include tests of Ultra-HD, virtual reality and augmented video. The broadcaster said it also plans to investigate how it can make use of white space spectrum--the name given to the gaps between the channels currently used by digital TV services, such as Freeview in the UK. 

EE told FierceWireless:Europe in October last year that it was planning to launch LTE Broadcast trials in the coming months. Indeed, any operator with an LTE network is likely to have this technology on its roadmap. Key drivers for its deployment include the more efficient use of spectrum and backhaul networks, and the ability to add capacity where required.

On a global scale, South Korean operator KT launched the first commercial LTE Broadcast service in January while Verizon and Telstra have revealed they are trialling the technology and are expected to launch commercial services this year. On Oct. 28 last year, Telstra in Australia completed what it claimed to be the world's first LTE Broadcast session on a commercial LTE network using Ericsson and Qualcomm technology.

For more:
- see this BBC R&D release

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