LTE Broadcast gaining traction as ecosystem starts to come together

LTE Broadcast is picking up momentum, with the latest news coming from Australia, where local telco Telstra conducted a demo of the technology for users at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The test involved delivering three live video streams to multiple users at the sports venue using technology supplied by Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC). By using a specially designed application and an LTE Broadcast-enabled device, participants were able to select their preferred content from the three dedicated content streams, which included live coverage, highlights and statistics.

Telstra's demo appears to have been quite limited. However, the fact that it actually took place in a stadium, one of the most cited use cases for LTE Broadcast, set it apart from a smaller demo conducted the same week by Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) in a large tent set up in a Manhattan park to entertain and inform Super Bowl visitors and local residents.

Meanwhile, South Korean operator KT last week commercially launched its eMBMS offering, limiting access initially to subscribers using the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

These recent developments show that the nascent ecosystem for LTE Broadcast may finally be starting to come together. "Development has been slower than what we expected. It takes a longer time to get the whole ecosystem ready from devices to the networks to applications. But I do believe it's a crucial piece for doing video in an effective way over mobile networks," Johan Wibergh, Ericsson's executive vice president and head of its networks business unit, told FierceWirelessTech.

LTE Broadcast is billed as an answer to at least some of the video delivery challenges facing mobile operators. "As soon as you have multiple people that want to view the same content at the same time, the mobile networks are not really up to it," Wibergh said.

But LTE Broadcast can change all that. Based upon evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS) technology, LTE Broadcast replaces clunky unicast content delivery with a single-stream network broadcast mode that can send the same content to mass audiences within a specific area.

Describing Telstra's recent test, Mike Wright, the carrier's executive director for networks, said: "Instead of requiring around 2 GB of data per user to stream one content channel of the game, we were able to serve all LTE Broadcast users, with three concurrent streams requiring a total of around 6 GB for the entire broadcast, which clearly demonstrates an efficient use of spectrum."

In addition, mobile operators are hoping LTE Broadcast can deliver new video-oriented revenues or exclusive service offerings that can stem customer churn. For example, Verizon, which prefers to use the term LTE Multicast, is partnering with the National Football League on the launch of an over-the-top video network called NFL Now. The OTT offering, slated to arrive this summer, will be accessible via Internet-connected devices and to Verizon Wireless subscribers through its LTE Multicast platform.

"LTE Broadcast provides a great opportunity for mobile operators to drive new revenue streams for premium entertainment video services over LTE and meet increasing consumer demand for exceptional quality video experience," said Hakan Eriksson, head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand.

For more:
- see this Ericsson release

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