SAN FRANCISCO -- Qualcomm Uplinq 2014 -- Count Facebook among the early proponents of LTE Multicast, or Broadcast, technology, but other content providers are still trying to decide if there's a business model that makes sense for it.
At Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s developer conference this week, Facebook 's VP of Engineering Jay Parikh expressed his support for LTE Broadcast, the technology based on the eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services) standards capabilities for live broadcasts over LTE. (See GSA: 16 Operators Trial LTE Multicast .)
Parikh said that the social network ships its app very rapidly on Android iOS, transferring a ton of data over the air for updates. LTE Broadcast would allow it to optimize that delivery process. "LTE Broadcast could help us streamline the transmission of these app binaries around the world," he said. (See eMBMS: Revolutionary Technology or Alphabet Soup?.)
Qualcomm, which powers the capability at the chip level, announced its first software development kit for developers building for LTE Broadcast on Thursday and said it already has 30 developers signed up to the platform. Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf called LTE Broadcast a breakthrough in mobile content delivery and an easy, efficient way to contact an unlimited number of users on the network. (See Qualcomm Offers an LTE-Broadcast SDK.)
"It will open up a number of new use cases that are interesting from an app development and business model perspective," he said, citing breaking news, media, public safety alerts and live broadcasts as examples. "It's in our chipsets and in the networks now."
LTE Multicast is already deployed in South Korea's KT Corp. network but in the US operators are still working through figuring out what those new business models look like. Verizon Wireless demoed it at the Super Bowl and Indy 500, but speaking this week at a Bank of America conference, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CFO Fran Shammo said that the carrier is still in talks with major content providers to figure out an agreeable business model. (See Verizon Beefing Up Network for VoLTE, Multicast Video.)
"How does this ecosystem develop? Is it a pay-per-view model? An advertising model? Does the consumer consume it in their data bundle, which I don't think is the right answer here," Shammo asked on the webcast. "We still have to work that out."
Even as it works through these issues around authentication and digital rights with its content providers, Verizon is moving forward with the technology. Like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), it intends to launch it commercially next year, but contrary to what Mollenkopf said, Shammo thinks it will take a year or two to have a meaningful amount of subscribers that own phones with capable chipsets, even though supported phones will start to come out in the fourth quarter. (See Verizon's Multicast LTE Video to Arrive in 2015 and AT&T's Strategy Boss Puts Content First.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading