LTE Broadcast still at a limited stage in Europe

At least 16 operators worldwide have confirmed they are either trialling or deploying LTE Broadcast, although operators in only five European markets have 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, the Netherlands, the Philippines, 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).

However, information about European operator plans remains thin on the ground: 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.

EE was the network partner of UK broadcaster BBC, which carried out a number of trials including broadcasting content live over LTE networks during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July. Vodafone Germany and KPN made use of large football events in their respective domestic markets.

According to the GSA report, Orange trialled the technology during the 2014 French Tennis Open at Roland Garros, 3 UK has carried out trials over its LTE network in Maidenhead and MEO in Portugal is also involved in trials.

Nevertheless, 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.

Devices also remain thin on the ground: the GSA said the Samsung Note 3 smartphone has been used in most trials to date, with chipset support from Qualcomm. The GSA added that several new LTE Broadcast-capable user devices are expected to be announced as more operators commercially launch LTE Broadcast services in the coming months.

For more:
- see this GSA release

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