LTE Broadcast a key to bolstering efficient content delivery via 4G

Michelle Clancy | 10-01-2013

As smartphones and tablets reach saturation levels in many markets, mobile operators are challenged with meeting the increased demand for mobile data while minimising capital and operating expenditures.
A new white paper from iGR postulates that LTE Broadcast or eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) provides an answer to part of the mobile operators' challenges with an efficiency bump for handling video traffic.
For US mobile operators, the amount of network capacity built in 2016 could be reduced by 9.8% if LTE Broadcast were deployed, equivalent to an overall potential saving of $4.21 billion. For the larger operators in the US, full deployment of LTE Broadcast could equate savings of $60 to $100 million in 2016 alone.
iGR's forecasts show an increase in monthly data consumption of more than 15 times its current rate between 2011 and 2016. Of that, a large portion will be video traffic, which is delivered in a one-to-one connection between the tower and the user a highly inefficient architecture for large-scale video dissemination.
LTE Broadcast (eMBMS) on the other hand enables a single frequency network (SFN) broadcast capability within LTE, so that the same content can be sent to a large number of users at the same time, resulting in a more efficient use of network resources than each user requesting the same content and then having the content unicast to each user. eMBMS was originally defined in Release 8 and 9 of the 3GPP standards and has been enhanced in Releases 10 and 11.
iGR's network model shows that LTE Broadcast can potentially off-load 12.5% of the video data traffic from unicast overall and 15% during peak hours in 2016 if deployed across a metro market. Similarly, the model shows that LTE Broadcast would off-load 30% of the total mobile data network traffic attributed to audio overall and 45% during peak hours in 2016.
"For mobile network operators that need to increase the capacity of their networks to meet the ever-increasing demand from consumers, LTE Broadcast is one of the tools available," said Iain Gillott, president and founder of the market research firm.
LTE Broadcast can be used for distributing content such as live events and media to a wide audience, as well as for background file and software delivery and group information distribution. iGR believes there are several benefits of LTE Broadcast from the mobile network operator's (MNO) perspective. For instance, no changes are required to consumer devices with compatible chipsets and middleware or to the LTE RAN because it's part of the LTE ecosystem.