Two weeks ago, two major sport events took place in Australia and in the United States. On January 31st, 2014, the Australian cricket team faced England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground stadium. Telstra, Australia’s leading provider of mobile phones and broadband internet, conducted the first test of Long Term Evolution Broadcast (LTE-B) technology by streaming the match to selected participants, who where given LTE-B-enabled smartphones from Samsung.

Three days later, the Denver Broncos were clashing against the Seattle Seahawks in the Superbowl at the MetLife Stadium, New Jersey. Verizon Wireless used this as an opportunity to test their LTE-B technology (they call it “LTE Multicast”) by streaming the game to an invited audience at a Verizon event in New York.

So what’s all this fuzz about LTE-B? Simply put, it’s one of the key technologies that  could dramatically reduce congestion on LTE networks.

“LTE-B offers us the ability to deliver content more effectively and provide all users the same high quality service using one single stream of data,” said Mike Wright, Telstra’s Executive Director of Networks

[2].

“We’d love to be able to broadcast that Super Bowl to everybody, mobile-ly, in the 2014 time frame,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon Chairman and CEO [1].

The goal of this technology is to deliver content to multiple subscribers at once, rather than sending it in separate streams of data to each user.

“LTE broadcasting isn’t just for localized content at an event. It could be used for any stream of content in high demand, including software updates, over an entire national network. To offer it, carriers need to set aside a portion of their spectrum, which can be allocated back to regular service when needed. Mass software updates might take place overnight when demand for network capacity is relatively low,” writes Qualcomm.

Verizon seems committed to the technology. However, since it’s a new way of using cellular networks, LTE-B requires new software at cell sites, plus chipsets and middleware on the devices for picking up the broadcast, and apps to present the streams.

In many cases, the hardware is already here. The Samsung Galaxy Note III tablet, based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chipset and supporting Qualcomm’s LTE Multicast middleware, was one of the devices used for demonstrating the technology in New York. Another company, Sequans Communications, is also shipping an LTE-Broadcast capable chipset.

LTE-B is a big step for LTE technology and appears to be adopted by the biggest telecommunication leaders. Even AT&T, the rival of Verizon, plans to use this technology. Korea’s operator, Korea Telecom (KT) has already announced the commercial launch of it’s evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (eMBMS), available for LTE subscribers who have the Samsung Galaxy Note III [3].

References

(1) http://www.computerworld.co.nz/article/537283/verizon_stream_super_bowl_over_lte_multicast_–_lucky_few/
(2) http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2014/1/31/technology/telstra-trial-lte-b-tech-mcg
(3) http://www.telecoms.com/217182/koreas-kt-launches-lte-broadcast-service/