Nokia: LTE Broadcast is Win-Win for Mobile Operators and Broadcasters
The spectrum battle that looms over Europe's free-to-air broadcasters and mobile telecoms operators could be neatly consigned to history, if the early results of a unique trial by mobile network operator Nokia hold water.
Nokia has been leading a world-first trial of LTE Broadcast eMBMS for national broadcasting. Based in Munich since last July and partnered with German research body Institut für Rundfunktechnik, the publicly funded trial is due to run until spring 2016.
To date most LTE Broadcast trials have been in and around sports stadia where there is believed to be a business case for easing the congested mobile networks by routing live localised video content to mobile over the emerging standard.
"We strongly believe nationwide broadcast is a relevant use case and has the potential to change the business models in the media industry with an upside to operators," says Helmut Schink, head of telco standards, Nokia Networks.
"So far the industry is talking about the digital dividend with the mobile and TV industry framing this as a fight because of the perceived need to give some spectrum resources away," he says. "We think LTE Broadcast eMBMS is sufficiently flexible that broadcasters can continue with their business model without need to have specifically allocated spectrum."
“It should be irrelevant in the future whether mobile network operators operate the network and provide the service or whether a broadcaster or a third party operates the network," says Volker Held, head of innovation marketing, Nokia Networks. "As long as the network provides the capacity to efficiently distribute the media - this is what LTE Broadcast will be able to do.
"We hope both camps will recognise this is a win-win situation because currently the clash between them is painful."
The Munich trial was the first to apply the eMBMS technology on the UHF spectrum, using part of the 700 MHz band to broadcast over a 200 km2 area. 700 MHz is the hotly contested spectrum used by DTT in Europe.
The European Union has proposed making the 700MHz broadcast spectrum available for mobile broadband by 2020, but mobile operator trade body the GSM Association says that is not soon enough.
The Munich trial is experimenting with ways LTE Broadcast can broadcast over mobile alongside interactivity.
"We are taking linear TV as a basic requirement but want to take it a step further," says Schink. "We are trying to find out if this is a suitable technology for broadcasting and also interested to see how broadcast can be combined with interactivity for example for viewing catch-up and time-shift TV to mobile."
This, he admitted, makes implementation significantly more complex.
While LTE Broadcast using eMBMS is a one-way signal, Nokia is trialling simultaneous interactivity using LTE unicast.
"The results are looking quite promising," he added.
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