Verizon to work with Ericsson, Samsung, MobiTV and others in Indy race LTE Multicast test

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) said it will conduct the first commercial test of what it calls LTE Multicast technology with a live broadcast of this Sunday's IndyCar Series race. The broadcast will incorporate video of the race as well as in-car footage and footage from cameras installed around the track. Verizon also named some of its LTE Multicast technology vendors including Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Samsung and MobiTV.

The test marks another step of progress in Verizon's deployment of LTE Multicast technology, and also provides a clearer indication of how Verizon plans to make use of the technology in the future.

"Large audiences in specific locations who want to watch high-definition video can present a challenge; but with LTE Multicast, a specific channel of spectrum is assigned to this purpose, making the video experience--and ultimately the overall wireless experience of others in the same location--high quality," the carrier noted in its announcement. Verizon earlier this year demonstrated its LTE Multicast service at another live sports event, the Super Bowl.

In the test, Verizon said it will use network equipment from Ericsson and "enhanced" Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphones with LTE Multicast-capable chipsets. Verizon also said it will use multimedia services from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Sequans demo tablets with Expway middleware. Verizon said MobiTV provided application development, content management and delivery across multiple devices.

Verizon announced earlier this year a multi-year agreement with IndyCar that will rename the racing championship the Verizon IndyCar Series. At the time, Verizon said it would "deploy its LTE Multicast solution at racetracks in the future to complement the Verizon INDYCAR 14 app and, the official website of INDYCAR."

Earlier this year, Verizon executives said the carrier was talking to consumer electronics manufacturers about integrating LTE Multicast with connected TV devices. However, the carrier has yet to announce any commercial devices with the service installed. Verizon executives have said the carrier will introduce later this year devices that will support LTE Multicast, which requires new computer chips and middleware. CFO Fran Shammo said in March that it will take "a year or two before the chipsets are in the handsets and that gets proliferated throughout the marketplace."

There exists "a lot of ability with Multicast to really generate additional revenue for the industry," Shammo said at the time, but added that "the ecosystem will have to develop here."

Verizon isn't alone in eyeing technology that would make video broadcasting more network efficient. In an FCC filing earlier this year, 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."

Using the eMBMS standard, LTE Broadcast technology 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. Verizon refers to the technology as LTE Multicast.

For more:
- see this Verizon release

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