LTE Alliance says LTE Broadcast making important progress

LTE Broadcast is alive and well, having made important progress with proofs of concept completed and underway, commercial services launched and new services nearing commercialization, according to the LTE Broadcast Alliance.

The alliance recently released a white paper that covers lessons learned from trials and early deployments around the world and includes examples like Verizon’s Indycar app, which has been commercially available in the U.S. since April 2016. The app offers live streaming in-car camera feeds and radio broadcast so users can see what drivers are seeing. The report notes that although it’s available for iOS and Android, only Android users have the LTE Broadcast capability at the track.

LTE Broadcast, or eMBMS, was envisioned as a collection of network technologies and device middleware that between them enable the simultaneous broadcast of content to multiple devices, thereby increasing the efficiency with which video and other content can be delivered to multiple users and making better use of network resources. The LTE Broadcast Alliance was formed in April 2016 with Verizon, Telstra, kt and EE and later expanded to include more operators around the world.

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The white paper says that many technical trials have proved that the technology works and that it supports multiple deployment models. “Many of the issues have been resolved, and operators, network equipment providers, middleware, chipset and device vendors now know what is required,” the paper concludes. “They can take steps now to drive LTE Broadcast forward to a successful future based on real services with proven business cases. Many are doing this, and others can learn from their experience.”

Proposed service ideas for LTE Broadcast range from sports stadium services—like multi-angle replays delivered to fans in the seats—to distribution of digital signage content and public safety notifications.

The market potential is large: Forecasts published by GSA in November 2015 suggest service revenues may reach $14 billion by 2020, with a customer base of 2 billion by that time, the researchers say. Besides generating a source of revenue for service providers, the technology also presents opportunities for content partners, network equipment vendors, middleware and chipset vendors and device manufacturers.

Interesting, they also say LTE Broadcast could become a network slice for multicast/broadcast of content in the 5G world. “Note that network slicing does not require 5G and network slices can be created in 4G networks too,” the report states. “So 5G doesn’t invalidate LTE Broadcast; rather LTE Broadcast becomes a part of what 5G will be.”

In a recent media briefing with Mobile World Live, Mike Wright, executive director of networks at Australia’s Telstra, said the opportunities for the technology were “enormously exciting” and expressed hopes the technology would “come right” this year.