& cplSiteName &

eMBMS: Revolutionary Technology or Alphabet Soup?

Aditya Kishore
4/9/2014
50%
50%

I remember writing about MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services) back in 2006, and I'm sure many people in the industry had heard about it well before then.

A 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specification, it was designed for broadcast and multicast services via a cellular network. The primary goal was to enable efficient delivery of multimedia content and software to handsets.

Despite intense debate on the impact it would have on TV broadcasting, it never took off. Nor, in fact, did various other mobile broadcasting initiatives, including DVB-T, DVB-H, and MediaFLO. (See Qualcomm Open to Selling FLO TV Unit.)

Now, as operators transition their networks to LTE, a new mobile broadcasting initiative is being launched. And like most LTE-oriented terminology, it has an "e" in front of it. But is there really more to it than the extra letter?

Why now?
eMBMS is certainly driving operator interest. Several have commissioned trials, including SingTel, Vodafone Germany, Telstra, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, and Filipino operator Smart Communications, among others. And South Korean operator KT has already launched an LTE broadcast service as of January 2014.

So why go back to yet another mobile broadcast technology? Operators and the vendors involved make strong arguments in favor of eMBMS:

  • Traffic offload: Mobile traffic is growing at a staggering rate. Data traffic will grow tenfold between 2013 and 2019, according to Ericsson's November 2013 Mobility Report. And video is clearly the driver. Even in interviews I conducted in late 2011, it already comprised the majority of network traffic for some operators. Cisco now predicts that video will be responsible for two-thirds of all mobile traffic in 2017. Even if you disagree with the specific number and forecasts, there is no question video traffic is growing on mobile networks. As such, it would be helpful to operators to be able to offload content that creates spikes in their network. Live sports and other hugely popular events such as the Obama inauguration and the Royal Wedding could simply be broadcast live at high quality rather than offered via unicast streams over a congested network.
  • Cost optimization: In addition to improving end-user QoE, eMBMS can also help with network optimization and cost efficiency. Vendors report that even if three viewers are tuned into the same video content, broadcast is a more network efficient approach than unicast streaming. Obviously, this also affects the scalability of the network.
  • New apps/services: eMBMS also enables delivery of additional content and new applications. For example, an LTE broadcast service in a sports stadium could offer replays, multiple camera angles, statistics etc. These capabilities could also enable new revenue for operators, via contests, paid polling, and advertising.
  • Dynamic resource allocation: The most important difference between MBMS and eMBMS (apart from the extra "e", of course) is that eMBMS allows for network resources to be dynamically allocated by the operator. An operator can choose to dedicate network capacity in a particular area for a particular event to broadcast services, and then re-allocate that capacity to regular data traffic once the event is complete. This was a huge hurdle in the adoption of MBMS, according to operators I spoke to, and is the primary reason they are now reconsidering mobile broadcast.

    Yes, but…
    There are also a few important arguments that run counter to those outlined above.

  • Limited use-cases: The most compelling use-case for eMBMS seems to be in-stadium broadcasts of supplementary content (i.e. replays, multiple camera angles, statistics, and so on). It is also likely that broadcasts of live sporting and other events could be another attractive option, though there are some considerations around time-shifting preferences of viewers. There's also a potential opportunity for software downloads and M2M communication. Beyond that, it isn't immediately clear what other use-cases mobile broadcasting would serve in a compelling way.
  • Indoor coverage issues: One operator also mentioned issues with indoor reception. This could be an important concern since seamless, anywhere access is an important part of the mobile video value-proposition.
  • LTE penetration: LTE penetration is still comparatively limited. While way more than 100 operators worldwide have launched LTE, that doesn't mean LTE is necessarily available across their entire network today. Nor is all user equipment LTE-capable, even within covered areas. According to GSMA Intelligence, LTE will account for just 4% of the world's mobile connections by 2015. As such, LTE-based services will be limited in their impact and scope for years to come.
  • Eco-system development: Mobile TV broadcasting will require agreements among a wide variety of value-chain stakeholders and technologies. While technology vendors can be pushed into moving faster, any new form of TV distribution has always been held up by licensing agreements, release windows, local market black-outs and exclusivity clauses and various other content acquisition hurdles. eMBMS will likely be delayed while rights owners sign off on the service. Other eco-system players, such as stadium and venue owners, will also be required to join, as well as advertisers (if it is to be a revenue-generating service).
  • Déjà vu: Many of the benefits listed earlier were also stated when 3G was being deployed. It's important to remember that mobile broadcasting did not find success then, and nor did new revenue models emerge, a new business eco-system develop, etc. You have to ask: Why should it all fall into place now?

    More questions than answers
    It seems that at least for now, eMBMS raises more questions than answers. LTE leaders such as South Korea, Japan, the US, and Australia may be able to move faster than the rest of the world, but for the rest, eMBMS will take time. Issues such as LTE coverage, device penetration, use-cases that are technically viable and economically sound, the development of revenue models, and a functional business eco-system incorporating content owners, venue owners, advertisers, enterprises (for some suggested M2M scenarios), still remain to be resolved.

    Still, eMBMS does offer potential solutions for some critical problems, not least of which is smoothing out spikes in mobile video traffic due to highly popular one-off events.

    Operators also point out that mobile usage behaviors have evolved in recent years. Tablet and smartphone viewing of video is growing rapidly, with Ooyala's Q4 Global Index predicting that half of all online video viewing will be done on mobile and tablet devices by 2016. This not only means more traffic on mobile networks over time, but also more demand -- and potentially willingness to pay -- for mobile broadcast services.

    Lastly, the dynamic resource capability is particularly important, as operators no longer have to hard-wire broadcast capacity into their networks.

    As such, I would expect eMBMS will largely be evaluated over the next two years, with broad deployments only building up subsequently.

    — Aditya Kishore, Principal Analyst, Diametric Analysis .

    (2)  | 
    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
  • Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
    Jasimroy
    50%
    50%
    Jasimroy,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    4/28/2016 | 6:43:04 AM
    Education
    I guide the students that how they can pass the exams and how can they get the certification for the latest knowledge this certification exam students click at exam or visit its certification its better for your bright future and will helpful 640-461 vce
    komatineni
    50%
    50%
    komatineni,
    User Rank: Lightning
    4/12/2014 | 3:04:43 AM
    re: What is the biz case
    The 'case' is assuming that broadcast will lead or takeover the personal consumption. Today, majority of people seen having a personal or unique genre of entertainment habbits over mobiles. Also, gone were the days of the assumption where people just use mobile device to watch TV :)

    IMHO, this may not even see mass deployment.
    More Blogs from Column
    Status and next steps on spectrum policy for Gigabit LTE and 5G in the US and beyond.
    Will social media platforms be the next big disruptor of the pay-TV industry? Could be, but pay-TV providers have ways to respond to this and other threats.
    Gigabit LTE is a must-have, not a gimmick, for operators around the globe.
    What organizations can expect when becoming GDPR compliant and how they can effectively navigate it.
    Is there an upside to Moore's Law slowing down? Actually, there are many.
    From The Founder
    Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
    Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Charting the CSP's Future
    Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
    Women in Comms Introduction Videos
    Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

    7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


    Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

    7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


    At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

    7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

    7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


    When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
    Women in Comms Introduction Videos
    Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

    7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


    Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
    Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
    Masergy's NFV Journey

    7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
    Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
    Mavenir on RCS Cloud Platform & Multi-ID

    7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Guillaume Le Mener, head of marketing and corporate development at Mavenir, discussed RCS and the recent launch of Multi-ID, which supports T-Mobile's DIGITS, the revolutionary new technology that breaks down the limitation of one number per phone and one phone per number.
    LRTV Custom TV
    ADTRAN Executive Outlines Trends in Next-Generation 10-Gigabit Cable Networks

    7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Hossam Salib, VP of Cable and Wireless Strategy at ADTRAN, outlines key trends as MSOs begin to deploy next-generation Gigabit and 10-Gigabit cable networks. In the interview, Hossam outlines the advantages of a Fiber Deep architecture, FTTH options including EPON and RFoG, and the importance of SDN and NFV in building next-generation high-bandwidth cable networks.
    LRTV Interviews
    Global Capacity: Bandwidth Demand Driving Ethernet Growth

    7|6|17   |   6:37   |   (0) comments


    At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Global Capacity's VP of Marketing Mary Stanhope talks about how the demand for bandwidth is changing the way service providers deliver broadband services.
    LRTV Interviews
    Colt's Services Chief on Digital Delivery

    7|5|17   |   16:12   |   (0) comments


    Rogier Bronsgeest, the chief customer experience officer (chief CEO!) at Colt, discusses the way in which the service provider interacts with its customers these days and his aggressive net promoter score (NPS) targets.
    Women in Comms Introduction Videos
    BT VP: Women Should Fill Security Talent Gap

    7|5|17   |   6:00   |   (2) comments


    By 2020 there will be six security jobs for every qualified worker, and Kate Kuehn, vice president of Security for BT in the Americas, says BT wants to encourage women to fill the shortage in jobs.
    LRTV Interviews
    Colt Sales Exec on Services Trends

    7|4|17   |   12:59   |   (0) comments


    Colt's sales director for enterprise, James Kershaw, sheds some light on the services currently in demand and how network upgrades are influencing customer demand.
    Upcoming Live Events
    September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
    October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
    November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
    November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
    November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
    November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
    Hot Topics
    Mobile to Power Online Video Consumption – Zenith
    Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 7/19/2017
    Can Mushroom Sprout in Crowded SD-WAN Field?
    Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/18/2017
    AI Will Be Ubiquitous in 2020 but Overhyped in 2017 – Gartner
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 7/18/2017
    Facing the Facebook Video Threat
    Gary Miles, Chief Marketing Officer, Amdocs, 7/17/2017
    Brocade, Broadcom Merger in Doubt
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/19/2017
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
    One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
    Animals with Phones
    Fuzzy Quick Fix Click Here
    If you can't access it, is it really broken?
    Live Digital Audio

    Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.