Mobile Video

AT&T Kicks Off LTE Broadcast

Following Verizon into the world of multicast LTE, AT&T has announced it will host the first live, on-site demo of LTE Broadcast technology at next week's college football national championship game.

Multicast LTE, known officially as evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS), uses a slice of spectrum to broadcast content to nearby compatible devices. Instead of sending each user a dedicated stream of content, multicast LTE provides one content stream that users can tune in to, much like a traditional broadcast TV solution. The technology significantly improves bandwidth efficiency and can be used to target content delivery in a specific place, during a specific time period.

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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) didn't say what content it will broadcast over LTE at the January 12 championship game, but it did offer sample use cases for the technology. At a football game, LTE Broadcast could be used, for example, to stream helmet camera views, other alternative camera angles or related bonus footage. In other environments, it might be the vehicle for delivering software updates, music or other types of live video feeds not only to smartphones, but also to connected cars and other Internet of Things devices.

Verizon Wireless first demonstrated eMBMS during last year's Super Bowl at an event in New York. It has since suggested that commercial deployments won't happen until the end of 2015. (See Verizon: Multicast Is 'a Year Away'.)

Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam also stated this week that the company's mobile TV service will debut around the same end-of-year time frame. However, it's unclear how useful multicast LTE might be for that over-the-top TV solution. While multicast LTE saves bandwidth for operators, it doesn't offer time-shifting flexibility, and using LTE for video streaming can quickly eat up a user's monthly wireless data allowance. (See Verizon CEO: We Are Not a Content Company and Verizon Crafting OTT Business Models.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

Atlantis-dude 1/12/2015 | 2:45:22 PM
Sounds interesting Would all LTE enabled devices be able to tap into this or does it need any upgrade?
Ariella 1/12/2015 | 12:56:02 PM
Re: Satellite @jabailo, I see, so though you could, theoretically, have all the views, that would consumer massive amounts of bandwith, which may prove impractical.
jabailo 1/12/2015 | 12:06:06 PM
Re: Satellite Since it's a unicast, all views would be transmitted simultaneously at least from the satellite to the dish connected to the LTE antenna.

At that point, you could either send all streams (say if it were a 100 Mbps connection) or you could write some middle range software that operates between the client and the LTE node to choose which views to transmit and save on bandwidth at that point.
Ariella 1/12/2015 | 10:12:18 AM
Re: Satellite @jabailo when it picks up on so many camera views, does the viewer get to select among them by seeing them all on a screen, or does an editor make that decision?
jabailo 1/11/2015 | 12:23:02 PM
Satellite Now that AT&T owns DirecTV I wonder if they have plans to utilize their satellite network for unicasting.   For example, you could have local LTE transmitters connected to satellite dishes, and thus short cut sending digital data along the internet trunk lines.  Last mile would be LTE.

I also like the idea of offering multiple camera angles and content for a simultaneous presentation, not just the standard TV broadcast.

pzernik 1/9/2015 | 9:52:05 PM
Re: Idea It seems like they could charge by minute for eMBMS usage, not by MB.  Or, make it free and charge only the advertisers.
danielcawrey 1/9/2015 | 4:05:16 PM
Idea This is a great idea, I am surprised that this technology has not been available before. Of course, it's only been recent where people need a broadcast spectrum of sorts for data streaming – sports stadiums are a great example of this use case. 
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