Real-time mobile video streaming of events is in an uptrend in Australia. This has in turn placed a huge demand on existing mobile network resources and to some extent threatens network cell capacities.
Telstra, one of the telcos facing this network pressure, has partnered with Ericsson and Qualcomm to ensure efficient delivery of LTE-Broadcast across its network in 2018. This will be achieved through implementation of the Multicast Operation on-Demand (MooD) feature. MooD together with the Session Continuity feature enable network cells to configure to LTE-B only in circumstances where multiple users are streaming the same content.
Telstra’s Decision to Switch On LTE-Broadcast
Wireless signals have been populating Australian airwaves at a very high rate. This has resulted in capacity deficiencies which has in turn affected the quality of content delivery across devices.
This and other developments have made Telstra to embark on testing of novel technologies such as LTE-Broadcast which boost data streaming to multiple devices. Essentially, LTE-B allows for broadcasting of a single data stream at a high-bitrate from a cell tower and access of the same by devices in the surrounding without affecting the quality.
In situations with limited network capacity such as during concerts or live sports in stadiums where many people are streaming the event from their devices, the network can slow down significantly. To solve this, LTE-B sends a video stream that is accessible to many users in the same area.
With the launch of LTE-B products, Telstra aims at minimising stress on its network imposed by mobile devices accessing media streams such as NRL and AFL games. In the same vein, Telstra plans to launch a live streaming 24/7 channel through LTE-Broadcast. The channel will be available on a few designated Samsung devices at the beginning and thereafter other devices will be integrated.
Shifting Users between Transmissions using MooD
The implementation of LTE-B technology by Telstra has brought a lot of changes particularly in the efficiency of live video delivery. Each network cell now supports so many users accessing the same content, an experience that was not possible with the earlier technologies. However, to do this, the current LTE-B technology has to set aside a dedicated part of each network cell’s capacity for broadcasting.
To counter this rather inefficient model particularly for lower streaming demand rates, Telstra has partnered with Ericsson and Qualcomm to implement the MooD feature. This simply means, network cells will only configure for LTE-B where the number of users accessing the same content increases to justify multicast.
With MooD, the network intelligently determines the number of LTE-B compatible devices within an area accessing the same content. It then activates or deactivates LTE-B without interfering with the efficiency of the mobile network in the area.
In an instance where you have a single football fan streaming a match live, MooD will likely service the user through unicast. However, where multiple users within the same cell decide to stream the event live, MooD will automatically decide whether to keep them on individual unicast streams or switch to broadcasting.
This allocation of network resources on demand enhances the capabilities of LTE-B and enables Telstra to deliver efficient data and streaming services.
Apart from the Dynamic Switching or MooD, Telstra is also investing in Session Continuity. This means, customers can move from broadcast to unicast areas while still maintaining uninterrupted video streaming experience. Take an example where you are at a music festival streaming the event live on your phone, and it reaches a point where you need to go back home. With Session Continuity, you will be able to watch the stream even though you are out of LTE-B coverage without even noticing the transition.
Working actively through the LTE-Broadcast Alliance, Telstra and Ericsson are building momentum within the LTE-Broadcast global ecosystem. The Alliance which was formed in 2016 continues to attract mobile network operators, and vendors and content providers. Together, the members are set to collaborate on LTE-Broadcast development and to stimulate the ecosystem momentum further. On a separate front, Telstra is working with Verizon, KT, and EE to ensure LTE-B is enabled in Android devices from major manufacturers.
In Australia, Telstra is the only LTE-Broadcast Alliance member and this puts the telco well ahead of the rest of the telcos in this technology.