A new report from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association says sixteen operators, spanning 13 countries, are currently trialing LTE Multicast, also called eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services. LTE Multicast allows wireless operators to broadcast live video over their LTE networks to multiple users simultaneously.
Today’s unicast streams require a dedicated channel for each user and can easily overload the network. Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, are good candidates for LTE Multicast.
Verizon has 98% of the country covered with LTE, with some 55% of customers now on it, generating almost 79% of the company’s data usage.
Other technologies, such as Qualcomm’s defunct MediaFLO, DVB-H, ATSC-M/H
or ISDB-Tmm, use a dedicated television channel to transmit data. LTE Multicast uses cellular channels so no special antenna or tuner is required.
Tablet TV offers a free over the air DVR-type service jointly financed by Granite Broadcasting and Motive Television, a London-based television software and services company. Rechargeable “T-Pods” capture the over-the-air digital TV signals and retransmit them to tablets using their own Wi-Fi signal. They are nearing a beta launch in the Bay area. Tablet TV will allow users to watch and record live over-the-air HDTV signals and will also allow on-demand packages for downloading in conjunction with local broadcasters—all without a cellular connection.
South Korea’s KT Corp. launched the first commercial service in January of this year and remains the only operator with an actual commercial service. Now, however, it’s joined by operators in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK and the US, all of which are at least trialing the technology currently.
During the World Cup, Brazil welcomed over 1.5 million tourists and over 3.3 million fans watched the games live. They used smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even smart watches and glasses to access the Internet, updating Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and WeChat. They shared in real time every twist and turn of each game by uploading pictures and video clips or chatting.
Streaming television to multiple users may seem like it has limited appeal in the age of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. But perhaps streaming providers could, in essence, create their own “networks” by leasing cellular channels for wireless delivery.
LTE Multicast may come into its own for data delivery. Imagine multi-player games played on a massive scale. Amazon’s purchase of Twitch this week for nearly $1 billion, a case in point.
In addition to the shared transmission capability, the two-way capability of the eMBMS system allows users to dynamically interact with the broadcast network.
Parks Associates said about 61 percent of all U.S. homes with high-speed Internet own at least one tablet, and found that the weekly video viewing time on tablets has increased from an average of a half hour in 2012 to 1.3 hours this year.
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