As demand for video content on mobile devices continues to soar, network operators are looking to broadcast over LTE to deliver high-quality video content without buffering or blockage. In an interview with BroadcastPro ME, Ericssons Georges Dabaghi explains why LTE broadcast is the answer A recent study by Ericsson revealed that data traffic in RMEA between 2014 […]
As demand for video content on mobile devices continues to soar, network operators are looking to broadcast over LTE to deliver high-quality video content without buffering or blockage. In an interview with BroadcastPro ME, Ericssons Georges Dabaghi explains why LTE broadcast is the answer
A recent study by Ericsson revealed that data traffic in RMEA between 2014 and 2020 will increase14-fold, whereas globally, it is expected to go up only nine-fold. Most of this data is video. As data becomes more video-centric, there is more demand for mobile broadband in the region. Video is the main driver of data on mobile devices and estimates point to 70% of mobile data being video by 2020.
According to Georges Dabaghi, Head of TV&Media, Ericsson, Region Middle East, the growing consumer demand for media services needs to be addressed by delivering content in new ways.
When content is streaming unicast, there is too much demand on the network, which may at times lead to blocking of radio assets. Broadcast over LTE is a potential solution to counter bandwidth issues, as it allows you to multicast rather than establish one-to-one traffic that eats into the networks capacity. Today, mobile broadband users are increasingly demanding spontaneous access to video content, a higher-quality experience and more convergent mobile services, and LTE broadcast can potentially deliver these.
LTE subscriptions are on the rise and are expected to triple in 2015 alone, and surpass 210m by 2020, equating to around 20% of all mobile subscriptions.
17% or 125m of all mobile subscriptions were attributed to smartphones at the end of 2014. LTE is expected to cover 70% of the worlds population by 2020, and Dabaghi points out that there are more than116 million smartphone users in the region. About 16-17% of them use LTE, rising to 40% in 2020.
Unlike traditional mobile phone communication, which is one-to-one, LTE broadcast sends the same data to many people. It’s quite similar to the SMS-type technology in GSM called Cell Broadcast, which can send the same information to all the handsets in a cell at the same time.
Essentially, LTE broadcast can deliver the same content to multiple users with the capability to support a virtually unlimited number of users simultaneously, thereby maintaining efficient use of spectrum. It also offers a more flexible and lower deployment cost compared with previous mobile-broadcast options, by leveraging OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access) and wider bandwidths available in LTE.
LTE broadcast supports a range of use cases such as live streaming of video for high-demand content, such as live sport and breaking news; background file delivery for popular content (video, music and print), software updates and emergency broadcasts. MNOs (mobile network operators) may choose to deliver their own content or partner with other content providers.
Broadcasting live sports is one example where broadcast over LTE can greatly enhance the viewing experience and create new revenue streams by intertwining it with commercials. For instance, the Formula 1 motor sports series, which is one of the most widely watched sports across the world.
Typically, F1 races take place on long tracks and give limited access to viewers present on the course. Given the length of the course, much of the race takes place away from spectator stands. Bringing live footage of the races on the viewers mobile devices can potentially augment the viewing experience, as placing TV screens may not always be the most practical solution, explains Dabaghi.
LTE addresses infiltration of content distribution to broadcasters and service providers. While the focus so far has been on mobile devices, there are many other applications and use cases that can create new business opportunities.
Two things must happen to spark the mass adoption of this technology, says Dabaghi.
The availability of capable devices and a surge in network investments, so they can meet the growing demand of mobile video traffic. The main building block for transformation is the connectivity.
Broadcasters can simply present the MPEG_DASH or MPEG-4/AAC stream to the service operators. From there, they carry the channel over LTE to users with enabled devices, who can watch these channels via an app.
The end-user devices need chipsets that support eMBMS. They must also have the client middleware loaded on to their devices (this is usually done by the device manufacturer upon the request of the service operator).
However, every technology also comes with its own set of challenges, which may have an impact on widespread adoption.
The main short-term challenge is the unavailability of smart devices equipped with the right client middleware to enable eMBMS. However, we expect this to become a reality with almost all new-generation smartphones/devices, clarifies Dabaghi.
How strong a case does LTE present, considering the dominance of satellite broadcast in the MENA region? Is the technology likely to go mainstream anytime soon.
The main difference between broadcast over LTE and satellite is that LTE relies on a terrestrial mobile LTE network, explains Dabaghi.
This, in turn, increases cost efficiency in terms of the total cost of ownership per channel broadcast as it means that you avoid uplink/downlink and satellite service costs. Broadcast over LTE, therefore, offers better infiltration to broadcasters distribution and provides better diversification of routes to reach the end user.
LTE broadcast is set to open new business models for mobile network operators and content owners. It offers mobile-network operators a profitable business proposition through service differentiation, new revenue opportunities and more efficient distribution of live and other digital media.
LTE broadcasts flexible service dynamics allow MNOs to offer different services based on service type, location (venue-specific, local, regional, national), quality (bitrate, QoS) and time of day/duration and as a result, charge differently.