AT&T 'exploring the possibility' of LTE Broadcast with eMBMS

In a new FCC filing, AT&T (NYSE:T) reiterated its interest in LTE Broadcast technology using the eMBMS standard. But the carrier did not confirm that it would launch the service, only that it was "exploring the possibility of offering eMBMS services."

"AT&T plans are to deploy commercial mobile broadband services over the (700 MHz) D & E spectrum using the unpaired D and E block spectrum on 3GPP Band 29 as supplemental downlink, together with AWS or PCS spectrum through carrier aggregation," AT&T wrote in a new FCC filing. "AT&T is exploring the possibility of offering eMBMS services as well. If AT&T were to deploy eMBMS services in the D and E Blocks, this would also be as supplemental downlink, together with PCS or AWS spectrum using Band 29 carrier aggregation."

The comments are notable considering Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) demonstration earlier this year of LTE Broadcast technology, using eMBMS, over its LTE network in conjunction with the Super Bowl. Verizon refers to the technology as LTE Multicast.

However, it will be some time before even Verizon's customers can take advantage of LTE Multicast, since it requires new chipsets in devices. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said last month that it will take "a year or two before the chipsets are in the handsets and that gets proliferated throughout the marketplace."

Moreover, AT&T has discussed its interest in LTE Broadcast technology before. Last year, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said the carrier plans to use the 700 MHz Lower D and E Block licenses it acquired in 2011 from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) for an LTE Broadcast service. Stephenson did not say exactly when AT&T would deploy LTE Broadcast: "You'll see it mature in scale within the three-year time horizon," he said at the time.

LTE Broadcast allows the same content to be sent to a large number of subscribers at the same time, resulting in a more efficient use of network resources than each user requesting the same content and then having the content unicast to each user.

For more:
- see this AT&T filing

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