Qualcomm has partnered Verizon Wireless to deploy LTE Multicast video distribution technology at the Indy 500 US motorsports event. The trial will use Verizon’s existing LTE infrastructure. Attendees will be able to customise their video feed through a dedicated mobile app on LTE-enabled smartphones and tablets.
In France, Orange will trial LTE broadcast for the duration of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros. It has partnered Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm, Expway, Sequans, and Samsung. The test broadcast will be limited to the RG Lab in the France Televisions Innovation Stand at the venue.
LTE broadcast trials have gained momentum since the second half of 2013. In September 2013, AT&T announced its intent to utilise the 700MHz spectrum it acquired from Qualcomm for LTE broadcast. In the Philippines, Smart Communications held LTE broadcast trials with Huawei in the 2.1GHz band. In January 2014, Australia’s Telstra and Ericsson trialled LTE broadcast technology during a T20 cricket match. In February 2014, Verizon demonstrated the technology for the 2014 Super Bowl. Also in February 2014, Vodafone Germany partnered with Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, and Samsung to conduct LTE broadcast trials at football stadium of Borussia Dortmund.
As with most LTE developments, South Korea is ahead of the rest of the world. KT launched its LTE broadcast service (evolved multimedia broadcast and multicast service (eMBMS)), Olleh LTE Play, in January 2014. At launch, the service was available to subscribers with Galaxy Note 3 smartphones following a software upgrade. Unlike the rest of the world, KT is not focussing on live sporting events, but general content delivery. It broadcasts two HD channels from its IPTV service without charging the subscriber’s data allowance.
Samsung has been very active in the LTE broadcast sector. Both Orange and KT are working with Samsung by using Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphones to demonstrate and deliver LTE broadcasts, though a software upgrade is necessary. Samsung’s involvement in LTE innovation will help it maintain its leading position in the global smartphone market.
Multiple infrastructure vendors including Huawei, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent have been working with operators to demonstrate LTE broadcasting. With the interest in LTE broadcast from operators growing, taking part in the early trials will place the vendors in a better position for future partnerships.
The majority of plans for the deployment of LTE broadcast technologies have been focussed on live sporting events. More specifically, operators are trialling the use of LTE broadcasting services at sporting venues for the duration of the event. While that may be useful for motorsport events where the entire track is not visible, cricket where the main action occurs at the centre of the pitch and can be hard to see, or catching a replay of a touchdown in football, it will struggle to take attention away from the main sporting spectacle, and as such will of limited use. But with mobile data traffic rapidly increasing, operators could find other applications for LTE broadcast to decongest their networks.