Feeds

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

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

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.