At least 19 operators worldwide have confirmed they are either trialling or deploying LTE Broadcast, and operators and broadcasters in seven European markets have now publically revealed trials to date.
A new report from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) shows that mobile network operators in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK and the U.S. have disclosed trial or deployment plans for LTE Broadcast, one of the key new features of 3GPP LTE Release 9 specifications known as evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS).
While information about European operator plans still remains thin on the ground, the momentum is growing: so far EE in the UK, Vodafone Germany, and KPN in the Netherlands have publically announced live trials, all of which focused on large sporting events.
According to the GSA report, Telecom Italia is studying eMBMS technology; Poland's Polkomtel trialled the technology during the first game of the FIVB volleyball men's world championship using 300 terminals at the national stadium; Orange trialled the technology during the 2014 French Tennis Open at Roland Garros; Three UK has carried out trials over its LTE network in Maidenhead; and MEO in Portugal is also involved in trials.
GSA president Alan Hadden said the association expects that eMBMS support will be embedded in all smartphones in the coming years as operators increasingly seek ways to better handle growing levels of mobile data traffic on their networks.
In 2013, video accounted for about 40 per cent of mobile data traffic, and various forecasts suggest a rise to 66-70 per cent by 2017, the GSA added.
As highlighted in a FierceWireless:Europe special report on LTE Broadcast last October, any operator with an LTE network is likely to have this technology on its roadmap.
As things stand, operators see LTE Broadcast as a good way to cut costs and increase the efficiency of their networks, add capacity where required and support live TV and tailored TV services during major public events. Other business cases are expected to evolve in time.
Leading vendors including Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm are also heavily involved in promoting the advantages of LTE Broadcast.
Nokia Networks, for its part, believes that the technology can complement, and even provide another option to, regional digital TV distribution standards such as DVB-T in Europe. The Finland-based vendor recently conducted a field trial of wide-area TV broadcasting using a single LTE frequency within UHF spectrum in Munich.
- see this GSA release
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LTE Broadcast still at a limited stage in Europe
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KPN follows Vodafone with live LTE Broadcast trial