BBC, EE demo ‘buffering-free’ broadcast over LTE

As spectrum efficiency becomes ever more important, UK public broadcaster the BBC is teaming up with equipment vendors Huawei and Qualcomm and mobile operator EE to demonstrate the benefits that multicast 4G broadcast can offer compared with unicast streaming.

The trial technology, which will be demonstrated on a dedicated stand at the BBC R&D Future of Broadcasting Showcase in the Glasgow Science Centre from 24 July to 3 August, is designed to deliver high-quality, uninterrupted live streaming to mobile devices, with no buffering using eMBMS (Evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service), the broadcast mode of LTE.

As a broadcast/multicast technology, eMBMS, is designed to give mobile network operators a more efficient and cost-effective means of sending popular content to a large number of customers simultaneously over an existing LTE network. It is designed to not require additional frequency spectrum, as it flexibly shares the same spectrum with content delivery to individual (unicast) users in the network as required. But unlike unicast it continues delivering the content with consistent quality as the number of users increases, without adding network capacity and spectrum bandwidth.

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The live content for the trial is in MPEG-DASH format provided by the BBC, sent over an IP link to a Huawei server situated within the EE test labs. The content is then encapsulated within multicast and sent to base stations where it is transmitted on 2.6GHz spectrum. An application written by BBC R&D is then used to display and navigate the live streams on handsets. This can be connected to the BBC’s iPlayer to support the integration of unicast on-demand content with live broadcast streams.

“Using eMBMS to deliver TV over 4G is an incredible demonstration of the capabilities of LTE,” said EE CTO Fotis Karonis. “The quality of the network that we’ve built…offers an amazing experience for consumers, and an amazing opportunity for broadcasters to more efficiently deliver their most popular content to multiple mobile users.”


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