Feeds

Mobile TV is BACK: Ericsson launches broadcast video for 4G

Must-watch TV - literally: NO pausing, skipping or stopping

Build a business case: developing custom apps

MWC 2013 Broadcast mobile TV is back again, this time on Verizon's 4G network with better quality than ever, because it's obviously merely inferior technology which has prevented the success of mobile broadcasting in the past.

Ericsson is going large at Mobile World Congress. It is now the largest provider of mobile infrastructure whose kit handles world's LTE traffic, plus O2 has forgiven its past failures and awarded Ericsson the contract to run the UK's core network across the generations. The company is also demonstrating that it can route mobile calls right into a web browser with WebRTC... But what really caught El Reg's eye was the announcement that Verizon would be using Ericsson's eMBMS technology to deploy broadcast video in the USA later this year, and Telstra is going to give it a shot Down Under too.

That's "broadcast" video - where everyone watches the same thing at the same time without the pause/rewind/skip one gets watching mobile video on YouTube, or iPlayer or any of the other video-on-demand services. But Verizon and Ericsson reckon mobile users will forgo the convenience of being able to control playback for the increased network efficiency made possible by Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service.

eMBMS is a nice technology, just as MBMS was a nice technology when it was applied to 3G networks. The broadcast system uses existing cellular infrastructure, and radio frequencies, but broadcasts the same signal to any number of people. This makes it much more efficient - as long as lots of people want to download the same content at the same time. It's also very attractive to network operators, who know video is popular and whose networks struggle to provide it. The Ericsson press release on the matter points out that 67 per cent of consumers watch TV on a mobile or tablet, but is silent on the matter of how many would choose to do so if they couldn't select what to watch.

A number of operators tried MBMS on 3G networks, but discovered that the vast majority of viewing took place in the home - largely from the teenager's bedroom - where Wi-Fi provides a better solution, but Ericsson is hoping that technology will provide a more compelling proposition for Verizon's planned launch.

That launch will be later this year, and revolves around sporting events and concerts. That's time-critical content which will certainly need the bandwidth available to the 4G-based eMBMS, along with the greater compression that H.265 (aka HEVC, High Efficiency Video Coding) can offer and the adaptive capabilities of MPEG DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) which can modify encoding to suit the available bandwidth, all of which makes for terribly impressive demonstrations and will make for good video should anyone sign up to watch.

But the product echoes the mistakes that were made following the launch of 3G: just because something is technically possible doesn't mean anyone will want it. Broadcasting television to mobile telephones has been tried, and tried again, eating through millions of dollars and pushing the technical development to almost universal indifference from consumers who just want NetFlix to work properly. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.