& 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
    IEEE's Nita Patel outlines the specific overlapping and critical elements that you must possess to successfully and simultaneously be a leader, mentor and mentee.
    As companies virtualize, too many fail to bring anywhere near the same rigor to monitoring their cloud services that they'd applied to their physical networks -- and that's playing with fire.
    How cable operators can use advanced customer-aware data analytics to improve the customer experience, reduce service disruptions and cut both tuck rolls and call center costs.
    Spectrum sharing is becoming a bigger issue as the 5G radio specification evolves.
    Addressing current and future app demands while laying the foundation for mobile's next big network transition.
    From The Founder
    Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
    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.
    LRTV Interviews
    Heavy Reading: The Web-Scale View

    1|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


    At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Heavy Reading's former chief analyst Patrick Donegan shared insight from the recent web-scale operators report, which featured research on how web-scale operators view the market, the best web-scale companies to ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    Cisco's Cloud Scale Networking: Automation, Virtualization & Simplification

    1|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Cisco's Sanjeev Mervana outlines the latest innovations in networking technology at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
    LRTV Custom TV
    ADVA Talks Innovation & the Future of Networking

    1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Ray Le Maistre and Christoph Glingener, CTO of ADVA Optical Networking, discuss the current state of the industry, cooperation and collaboration, open innovation and the future of networking.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Cisco's Infinite Video Platform

    1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Cisco's Infinite Video Platform allows service providers to deliver broadcast-quality video over IP networks. Infinite video supports many devices, from 4K TVs to tablets to game consoles. Join Cisco's Rajeev Raman for a brief tour and live demo.
    LRTV Interviews
    Masergy: Ability to Adapt Key for NFV

    1|16|17   |   6:40   |   (0) comments


    Speaking at Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Masergy's VP, Global Technology, Ray Watson, said agility is key to providing the mix and match NFV-based services that are driving business for the managed service provider today.
    LRTV Interviews
    Equinix: The Data Explosion

    1|13|17   |   4:16   |   (0) comments


    At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Eric Schwartz, president of EMEA, Equinix, talked about how Equinix is helping its customers manage the influx of data today, and how it's preparing for a future filled with millions of connected IoT devices.
    LRTV Interviews
    Heavy Reading: The Changing Data Center Landscape

    1|12|17   |   6:05   |   (1) comment


    At Light Reading's 2020 Vision event in Rome, Heavy Reading's Senior Analyst Roz Roseboro talks about how virtualization is impacting data center evolution and how that evolution is affecting the relationship between service providers, data center operators and public cloud providers.
    LRTV Interviews
    Boingo: Prepping for Millions of Devices

    1|12|17   |   5:07   |   (1) comment


    At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Boingo's CTO Derek Peterson discusses how wireless operators will address the needs of low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth apps at the same time, the need for more MHz, the impact of IoT and more.
    LRTV Interviews
    Comcast Shows Off Gig Gateway at CES

    1|11|17   |     |   (1) comment


    With its largest presence at CES in years, Comcast took the wraps off its long-awaited gigabit gateway and a new platform for managing the home WiFi network. Light Reading Senior Editor Mari Silbey sat down with EVP Chris Satchell to discuss the latest Comcast advance, and met with VP of Product Strategy and Development Andrea Peiro to walk through a demo of the ...
    LRTV Interviews
    Colt: End-to-End Key for 2017

    1|10|17   |   6:21   |   (0) comments


    At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Nico Fischbach of Colt said having a multi-carrier, end-to-end service proposition is going to be key for 2017 -- and SD-WAN is instrumental in making it happen.
    From the Founder
    Cisco's Clemson on Mobile Cloud Video

    1|9|17   |     |   (1) comment


    Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators. "If you think about where we're going… whether it's a mobile application, or a video ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    VMware Telco NFV Solutions – Preparing for 5G & IOT

    1|9|17   |     |   (0) comments


    Shekar Ayyar, EVP & Corporate Strategy/General Manager of Telco for VMware, discusses VMware's Telco NFV solutions role and foundation for the Imminent Arrival of 5G & IOT.
    Upcoming Live Events
    May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    Hot Topics
    A Women in Comms Glossary
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 1/18/2017
    Next Plugfest Gets G.fast Closer to Market
    Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 1/13/2017
    TV's Paradox: No HDR Without 4K
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 1/17/2017
    Qualcomm Study Predicts 5G Will Create 22M Jobs by 2035
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/17/2017
    Cable Has One Thing Verizon Needs
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 1/17/2017
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
    Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
    Animals with Phones
    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.