LTE Broadcast is gaining momentum, dashing the hopes of doubters and naysayers, who kept asking, “what is different this time?”
It is indeed different this time—the power and persuasiveness of LTE! LTE Broadcast utilizes existing LTE network, spectrum and devices—all that you need to launch LTE Broadcast is a strong will to lead, a good business model, and the shrewdness to select the right mix of applications to use it for.
There are many applications to choose from, be it very popular venue casting, over-the-air OS and app upgrades, distribution of e-magazines or e-media, public safety, or many enterprise use cases necessitated by BYOD. In fact, there are so many applications that IDC has published a whitepaper* on the topic.
That’s all current stuff, you might say—give me the new and exciting part, and tell me about the convergence. Okay! One thing at a time, let’s start with LTE Broadcast evolution. Well, if I have to cover the entire evolution story in one sentence that would be “bringing the efficiency of LTE Broadcast to more places, more often, across the network for more apps and services.”
There are a number of enhancements that are targeted to achieve this, the first (and the one that is at the cusp of being standardized) is what we call dynamic switching, as in switching between unicast and broadcast. Currently, operators have to manually configure the network for broadcast, which only works for predetermined cases. But with dynamic switching, all of it happens on the fly. Whenever the network sees that many users are consuming the same content, it can automatically and seamlessly switch them to broadcast, and vice-versa. This also brings a glaring fact to light—LTE Broadcast provides better efficiency even when there are a only few users, as few as 1-2 users per cell, consuming the same content, in a cluster of cells. So the network can automatically switch to broadcast where and when needed.
Now to convergence. It is a simple yet, very powerful concept—using LTE Broadcast for not only mobile but also for fixed devices. Typically, you will have LTE Broadcast service overlaid on the regular LTE service—using the existing LTE infrastructure including sites, transport and core network—while using a dedicated broadcast/unpaired spectrum. One could provide regular TV services using this network to mobile LTE devices as wells to fixed devices such as TVs, set-top boxes etc. Of course, these fixed devices will need LTE connectivity, which is easy enough to provide with LTE USB dongles (or embedded modules). This might look like a utopian vision, but the seeds of it are already being sowed in Europe, where the next generation of terrestrial TV is being defined, and LTE Broadcast is a strong candidate in all the discussions.
The convergence virtually benefits the entire ecosystem—broadcasters get access to the lucrative mobile market, which in turn increases the value of their content and advertisement potential; operators can realize new revenue opportunities by hosting the LTE Broadcast network for broadcasters and also be able to offer converged services to their customers; users get access to TV over mobile devices and uniform user experience across devices; regulators benefit from the ~2x spectral efficiency improvement of LTE Broadcast over traditional DVB-T technology, which frees up spectrum that can be used either for more broadcast or mobile broadband services. So, it’s a win-win-win-win situation.
If you would like to learn more visit our webpage www.qualcomm.com/broadcast.