Telstra, Australia’s biggest operator, says it has completed the world’s first LTE broadcast session on a commercial LTE network. Using kit from Ericsson, the demonstration included live video feeds (sport) and devices receiving a large file using a single LTE broadcast channel.

By streaming the same content to multiple devices at the same time – similar to a TV broadcast – it is claimed that mobile operators can make more efficient use of network capacity than transferring multiple data streams separately.

“The trial is an important step in testing this technology to see how it provides network efficiencies while providing consumers the content they want in a high-quality experience,” said Mark Wright, Telstra’s executive director of networks. “Our goal is to ensure consumers can get the content they are looking for easily and to explore the wider benefits that might be obtained using broadcasting technology.”

Thomas Noren, Ericsson’s VP and head of project area radio, argued that LTE broadcast gives mobile operators the chance to monetise their media and network assets for new services. “Revenue generation and cost-saving opportunities are significant and provide an attractive value proposition for mobile operators,” he said

Qualcomm Labs’ LTE broadcast SDK and middleware running on Snapdragon processors was also used in the trial.

Other large operators are showing keen interest in LTE broadcast technology. AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference last month, indicated that 700MHz spectrum bought from Qualcomm two years ago would be used for LTE-based TV broadcasting and so ease traffic congestion on its cellular network.

Verizon Wireless, however, is expected to be the first in the US to deploy LTE broadcast, using next year’s Super Bowl as the launch event.

Ericsson’s Mobility Report 2013 predicts that video traffic in mobile networks will grow by around 60 per cent annually until 2018, driving demand for LTE broadcast services.