LTE-Broadcast's future has been assured

Phil Hunter/Wireless Watch
12 Mar 2015

This article originally appearedin Rethink's Wireless Watch

We have been there before with DVB-H, Qualcomm’s MediaFlo and others, but now we can say for sure that mobile broadcast, or more strictly multicast, is here to stay. The time is right with LTE technology providing the bandwidth, while screens are now large enough and good enough to display compelling video, fuelling massive growth in mobile data.

Besides it is not just video that benefits from multicast delivery but a host of other services too, such as emergency alerts, software updates and various location based applications, like real time traffic updates.

Facebook is interested in simultaneous delivery of apps and is even touting its new membership of the LTE Broadcast User Forum as evidence that it is now cooperating with operators to reduce the load on their networks.

This forum really took to the air at Mobile World Congress 2015, with Ericsson in the driving seat accompanied by the GSA, the GSMA, INDYCAR, Intel, KPN, Qualcomm Technologies, Telstra, SingTel and Verizon, as well as Facebook, all providing live demos of new use cases and functions for LTE Broadcast.

Broadcasters such as the BBC alongside other major carriers like Deutsche Telekom, EE and Telecom Italia have also been adding their weight to growing LTE Broadcast momentum, through various trials and beta deployments. The chance now of LTE Broadcast suffering the same fate as its predecessors looks vanishingly slim.

There is still though some confusion over what LTE Broadcast can and cannot do. It operates as a single frequency network (SFN) in multicast mode, being a part of the 3GPP LTE standards set known as evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS). It extends existing LTE/ Evolved Packet Core (EPC) systems with efficient point-to-multipoint (PMP) distribution, enabling multiple users to receive the same content simultaneously, both within individual cells and across a wider mobile network. LTE Broadcast functionality is now available for commercial launch, beginning with Release 9 and with additional enhancements promised in future 3GPP releases.

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