Thursday 10 April 2014

LTE-Broadcast of the operator, by the operator, for the operator!

Heard an insightful talk from EE in the CW event this week. While I agree with the intentions and approaches, I still think there may be too many assumptions in the eMBMS business model. I have made my intentions known all but too well in my earlier blog post here.

Some of the insights that I have gained in the last couple of months with regards to the way operators are planning to use the LTE broadcast is through the OTT Apps. Take for instance an OTT application like iPlayer or Hulu and some popular program is about to be broadcast, that program can be sent using LTE-B. Now some people may watch on the time (linear) and some may watch at a later time (non-linear or time-shifted). The App can be intelligent enough to buffer the program so there is no delay required when the user wants to watch it. This can open all sorts of issues like the user may have watched one episode on his device while the current one is being watched on his digital television. While the program is being buffered the battery and memory of the device is being consumed. How long should a program be stored on the device. There can be many other open issues.

Another question I had was how would the users be billed for these things. Would it be free since the data was received over LTE-B. Matt Stagg from EE said that the users would be billed normally as if they received it in case of streaming. He was more pragmatic though. He clearly said that in the initial phase everything would have to be free. This will ensure that any technical issues are ironed out and at the same time the users become familiar with how all this works.

Finally a point worth remembering, users prefer watching videos on their tablets. Most tablets are WiFi only which means the LTE-Broadcast wont work on it.

The presentation is embedded as follows:


antonyleo said...

Should the UE be connected in the 4G network
inorder to receive LTE broadcast ???

Zahid Ghadialy said...

Yes, this is necessary.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zahid,

I tend to agree with your view on the eMBMS business model, or lack thereof.

The general tendency of "techies" is to always tout the "academic" merits of a technology with reasoning often boiling down to "efficiency" arguments.

Certainly, those arguments are important. However, their overall costs have to be weighed with the benefit. Several things on the business end are often overlooked:

1) Will the multicast/broadcast revenue be greater than their existing unicast revenue? The spectrum has to come from somewhere. Certainly, "dynamic switching" addresses the "how", but what about the "why"? If a network operator allocates some of their spectrum to multicast/broadcast, this is less spectrum that allocated to unicast service.

2) How difficult would it be to establish the broadcast licensing agreements with content owners? Many talk about "sporting events", but realize that it is nearly impossible to get some of the broadcast licenses required for these sporting events.

3) Can a partnership with incumbent broadcasters provide the revenue and avoid the deployment, operations, and maintenance of eMBMS infrastructure? "Service bundles" is generally the vehicle for selling this to a user. Certainly, a network operator would like to see new business and customers brought on by the multicast/broadcast services. Broadcasters currently have or are working on technologies which play nicer in the Internet space, e.g. DVB-H/DVB-T2/ATSC3.0. What they are missing is a "return channel", which the "broadband" network operators can provide to deliver hybrid content. This becomes a "tit-for-tat" relationship as both benefit from the increased customer base.

Anyway, it will be pretty clear within the next six months I suspect with Verizon and AT&T engaged in trials. They are business people at heart, and in the end they will "fish or cut-bait" with this technology depending on if there is a viable business model.