Verizon's 4G LTE network will help support the operator's audacious $4.4 billion bid to make itself a fully-fledged digital content service provider through its buyout of AOL. (See Verizon's $4.4B AOL Buy a Digital Media Play.)
Specifically, the buyout will be able to utilize LTE Broadcast video delivery technology that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has been working on deploying on its 4G network, along with the over-the-top (OTT) mobile TV service Big Red hopes to start offering in mid-2015. (See Verizon Plans Mobile TV Service in 2015 and Verizon Beefing Up Network for VoLTE, Multicast Video.)
Verizon's acquisition of AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is being presented as a digital media and advertising play, but the operator has plainly been building the ecosystem to support better delivery of mobile video content for a while now, with or without an AOL buyout. (See Verizon's AOL Buy Completes Its Content Story.)
Verizon has been working on LTE Broadcast, which is based on eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services) standards capabilities, for a while now and started talking publicly about the capability in 2014.
Services are supposed to start sometime in 2015 as Verizon starts to seed the market with compatible handsets. (See Verizon's Multicast LTE Video to Arrive in 2015.)
Verizon's CFO, Fran Shammo, described the upgrade from 4G video streaming to the multicast technology like so in March 2014:
- If everybody in this room was to watch the same video today we would probably bring down the cell site, because there wouldn't be enough channels in that cell site to deliver the same video to everybody. With multicast, it's one channel and one cell site and you can all watch the same video on the same channel.
LTE Broadcast, in particular, had looked to some like a technology in search of an application, with questions of what it would be used for, and how much operators would charge for the service being paramount.
The AOL buy doesn't answer all those questions but it does demonstrate how serious Verizon is about a digital media strategy and putting in a wireless infrastructure to support that.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading