UK number one operator EE is looking to begin trials of LTE Broadcast later this year, with possible commercial launches following late in 2015 – although this forecast came with a number of caveats.
“We’re going to demo a live sporting event with a content provider this year, we will do a trial at a stadium, and that will be ‘look how good it is’ from a features point of view, with multiple camera angles, live feeds and replays,” Matt Stagg, video strategist for the operator, said yesterday.
“Device dependent, in Q4  we will be looking at using it as a tool for congestion management, rolling out in certain areas where we see live and linear TV driving congestion,” he continued. Again, this is likely to focus on stadiums initially for commercial services, before wider deployment in 2016.
But these dates are far from set in stone, relying on the industry resolving a number of issues including device availability and issues related to content rights management, which involve numerous stakeholders with different interests.
“I can see them moving back, unless we get the backing. They could move forward. That’s going to be our path, but the timelines are subject to some things that are outside of our area of being able to do something – but not outside of our sphere of influence,” Stagg said.
Other operators are also looking at the potential of LTE Broadcast, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, Orange and Telstra. Because of the growing momentum around the technology, this is creating further interest throughout the ecosystem.
Unlike previous mobile broadcast technologies, where dedicated infrastructure and spectrum has been used to little consumer interest, the executive highlighted the flexibility of LTE Broadcast – or eMBMS as it is also known – as a way to dynamically address congestion specifically in areas of high video traffic, for example sports stadiums.
“Unless you are launching a TV service like KT, where they wanted to broadcast their TV service, I don’t see it being a big bang approach. I think that’s what people thought, but we will roll it out where congestion is being driven by TV. Run it over broadcast: it’s a much better upgrade path than a small cell”.
And Stagg was also clear about what will be the driver: sport, especially around major events. “I’m quite happy to say that the only thing we can do to manage live sports in mobile networks is broadcast,” he said.