Analysis & Opinion

GSA: “LTE Broadcast is potentially a game changer”

TV Connect, London

TV Connect, London

In this exclusive guest post, the Global mobile Suppliers’ Association (GSA) VP of Research Alan Hadden helps us all get up to speed with LTE Broadcast and its uses.

What, why and wherefore….

One of the drivers for thinking about LTE Broadcast – or, to use its technical name, eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) – is the increasing video usage on the networks.

In 2013 video accounted for about 40% of all mobile data traffic, but that will rise to somewhere between 66% and 70% by the year 2017. Video consumption is growing. And the way a video would normally be delivered at the moment, if you’re watching a YouTube video for example, is you’re going to be effectively seizing a dedicated circuit to deliver that piece of content.

If there is a compelling demand for a particular video service, like a viral video, then there’s lots of people in the UK or even in the world doing exactly the same thing, and this means an operator is going to have all of these multiple parallel sessions to all of these users. That’s taking up a lot of network resources.

The benefit of LTE Broadcast is it has the ability to deliver the same piece of content to a literally unlimited numbers of users. It does so by effectively allocating or setting up a single frequency within a base station, which is then repeated in other base stations – it could be a small area, it could be a part of a town, or it could be a city, a region or nationwide. If everyone wants the same thing: they can all have it.

Use cases

If you watch Formula One on TV you’ll know there are several angles that you can select. But imagine you’re in the soccer stadium, and you go there and see an incident, and that controversial incident will not be repeated in the stadium. Well, with LTE Broadcast the video can be collected and aggregated and delivered as a service to users within that stadium. And it can be more than just replays – it can be viewing from different angles, or calling up a profile of a player, or buying merchandise.

Furthermore, what happens when Apple releases iOS 9? It’s the same thing. You’ve got this demand for a volume of data that people want to access at the same time. Another example is newspaper subscriptions. When I wake up in the morning, I could have a copy of the Metro or the Times on my iPad. These could be also delivered through LTE Broadcast.

One use case that is extremely interesting is the ability to distribute information that may relate to public safety or emergency – Tsunami warnings, for example. Again, penetration of smartphones is so high that, with this capability on all devices, it gives the authorities this ability to deliver the same message simultaneously to hundreds of thousands, or millions, or tens of millions of users, all at the same time.

IPTV is well understood, but now we’ve got this ability for the operator to deliver the same channel or channels to multiple users, instead of having these dedicated IPTV streams.

LTE Broadcast is potentially a game changer for the industry.

Throughout the LTE Broadcast conference track at TV Connect (28 – 30 April 2015 ExCel, London) there will be an examination of the latest trials and best case-uses for the technology – including updates from the likes of BBC, Deutsche Telekom, EE and Telecom Italia. Click here to see the full brochure

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