LTE Broadcast "Ready for Prime Time"

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"LTE Broadcast is definitely ready for prime time," says Dennis Specht, CEO and co-founder of Roundbox, recently acquired by mobile solutions provider QuickPlay Media.

For QuickPlay and Roundbox, the technical part of the service has been solved. What is missing is the commercial model—but that's coming, they say.

"It changes the game for TV in some areas," said Specht. "In APAC, for example, we are seeing LTE Broadcast being leveraged as a cable replacement. You can offer 12 channels for $7 a month over mobile.

In other parts of the world, such as Europe, a strong use case is spectral efficiency, where the technology enables a far more efficient use of the spectrum that mobile operators own.

The main benefit to operators is that LTE Broadcast (also called evolved Multicast Broadcast Service or eMBMS) offers "dramatic" operational efficiency.

"As [operators] are getting pounded with video traffic, mobile data outage is a problem which LTE Broadcast will help them deal with," said Specht

In the U.S. and Europe,multiple tests have been done around delivery of live sports events, with mobile operators and pay TV players likely to leverage their investments over LTE Broadcast. Verizon has a $1 billion deal to stream coverage of NFL games to mobile; Telecom Italia owns rights to mobile coverage of soccer league Serie A, and BT (which owns the UK's 4G network mobile operator EE) and Sky in the UK share rights to English Premier League coverage.

"Where are there are more than six people in a cell site accessing HD video it becomes a problem from a capacity perspective, so broadcast will offer a more efficient delivery," said Mark Hyland, SVP, global sales at QuickPlay. "We see this being monetised by large operators with content rights as pay-for-use or by advertising that drives a free application."

While the technology is solid, executives say, there are still differences in applying it. "What is needed is a series of interoperability tests with various vendors to deploy a solution," said Hyland.

M2M, digital signage, OTA software updates, and in-car TV are other potential applications for the technology.

"From a consumer perspective we are likely to see more push types of application where content and large data files are made readily available on devices," Hyland says.

On the acquisition of Roundbox, Hyland says the move would help carriers and content providers manage the end-to-end provision of LTE services from content ingestion to application delivery. The Roundbox client and server solution will be positioned as a managed service offering to customers.

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