Feb 7, 2014
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
If you’re reading this blog, you might already know that Qualcomm Gobi modems enable blazing fast web browsing and download speeds on 4G LTE mobile devices. But chances are you might not know that Gobi modems also excel at enabling a different kind of LTE service called LTE Broadcast, which allows speedy delivery of content to not only your smartphone but to many other mobile devices around you simultaneously.
LTE Broadcast is just like good old broadcast TV but much more sophisticated, allowing delivery of a lot more content and services to mobile users while also making efficient use of the LTE network. Yes, LTE broadcast technology sounds amazing, but it is real! The Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800 processor, with comprehensive support for LTE Broadcast integrated in its multimode LTE modem, enabled by the LTE Broadcast middleware, recently powered the world’s first commercial launch of the service on KT’s network in Korea using the Samsung GALAXY Note 3. Subscribers of KT’s LTE Advanced service can now watch live, HD broadcast TV on their mobile devices.
Snapdragon 800 was also featured in the LTE broadcast demonstrations held by Verizon Wireless in the U.S. during NFL Super Bowl week to highlight the potential of the technology in distributing live sports content to mobile devices.
So why would LTE broadcast succeed given the years of trial and error with prior mobile broadcast technologies?
Firstly, its success is no longer reliant on just one killer app (live TV) as it was the past. Designed to enable a range of mobile applications such as in-venue multicasting, newspaper and magazine downloads, breaking news feeds, over-the-air OS updates, e-learning, digital signage, mobile advertising and more, it has the potential to open up many new revenue opportunities for wireless carriers. In short, LTE Broadcast is a superior way to deliver virtually any common content to many users simultaneously without tying up a dedicated LTE pipe for each recipient.
Secondly, LTE Broadcast benefits from superior economics because of its tight integration within the LTE standard. Hence, network operators do not need to dedicate radio spectrum solely to LTE Broadcast, or overlay a network like previous mobile broadcast technologies—in fact, operators do not need any additional hardware to upgrade their existing radio networks for LTE Broadcast. The main new elements needed are the Broadcast Multicast Service Center (BM-SC) and Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Gateway that reside in the core network.
Similarly, there is no dedicated silicon required in LTE devices. With chips from Qualcomm Technologies such as the Snapdragon 800 processor, LTE Broadcast is enabled through modem software and LTE Broadcast middleware, which handles service delivery. This can help alleviate network congestion by replacing several individual downloads, of say a heavy mobile OS update, with a single update that is shared by many users while using a fraction of the network bandwidth.
Finally, all these innovative applications are now much more scalable via LTE Broadcast due to an increase in spectral efficiency over unicast and better cell edge data rates1. Thanks to the Snapdragon 800 processor, HD-enabled tablets, which did not exist at the time of earlier mobile broadcast experiments, take advantage of higher cell edge data rates to make the mobile video experience more appealing to users than ever before.
Qualcomm Gobi LTE modems—now in their 4th generation and fully integrated in Snapdragon processors—have been supporting LTE broadcast trials since early 2013 and commercial service since January 2014. As long as you have a mobile device with the latest broadcast-enabled Gobi modem and broadcast middleware, all you need to do is watch for when LTE Broadcast/Multicast service launches on a network around you. With several operators planning trials and commercial launches this year based on Qualcomm Gobi chipsets, you might not have long to wait...