Several leading operators have announced the launch of a LTE-Broadcast alliance during TV Connect 2016 in London. The alliance's goal is to increase global support of LTE-B services from all device manufacturers to help improve customer experience.
LTE-B is also known as eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) and enables operators to send one stream of data to all users in a single area rather than having to send an individual stream to each. This reduces the amount of traffic on a network and helps to ensure a seamless experience for customers; even in areas of high demand.
The operators involved with the LTE-Broadcast Alliance represent various countries including the UK (EE), North America (Verizon), Australia (Telstra), and South Korea (kt.) One major objective is to ensure that every top- and mid-tier device launched in 2017 is LTE-Broadcast capable.
We are looking forward to working with some of the world’s leading players in this space to ensure the technology is adopted globally
Each operator has pioneered LTE-B services in their home countries. Verizon has rolled-out support for the standard across its nationwide 4G network in North America, whilst in South Korea kt was the first operator in the world to launch a commercial LTE-B service in January 2014 – albeit with limited coverage in seven baseball stadiums and major subway lines of Seoul and Busan.
Parissa Pandkhou, Director of Product Development at Verizon, said: “Since 2012, Verizon has been dedicated to LTE-B, and in 2015 achieved commercial availability across our entire 4G LTE network. The LTE-B Alliance will help establish and expand the benefits of the service to other technology segments, increase device penetration, and unearth even more use cases for eMBMS.”
Meanwhile, trials have been conducted in the remaining two countries. In the UK, EE trialed LTE-B at the 2015 FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, in partnership with the BBC, allowing HD broadcast of multiple camera angles and replays to mobile devices in the stadium. In Australia, Telstra undertook the world’s first stadium broadcast using LTE-B in January 2014.
Mike Wright, Group Managing Director, Networks, for Telstra, said: “We have already seen some of the benefits of LTE-B to both mobile operators and customers, so we are looking forward to working with some of the world’s leading players in this space to ensure the technology is adopted globally, which is essential for continuing to deliver a high quality video experience for our customers.”
LTE-B has many theoretical uses, including to:
Be a vehicle for push notifications, such as over-the-air device updates, customer weather warnings, critical communications for public safety, enterprise group communication, or increasingly multimedia marketing messages
Connect digital signage, allowing media agencies to dynamically change content for more targeted messages
Become a service platform for IoT connectivity, communicating to billions of devices at the same time
Contribute to value-added services on 5G networks, making the most of high bandwidth, low latency connectivity to multiple devices
Matt Stagg, Head of Video Strategy at EE, said: “Initially we focused our LTE-B efforts on the benefits for live and linear video, and we will launch a live service in 2017. Now, as part of the LTE-B Alliance, we’ll be focused on developing use cases for critical communications services, Internet of Things, and a 5G future. The Alliance will provide awareness of the importance of this technology, and ensure that the benefits can be realised as soon as possible.”