Verizon's recent demonstration of evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (eMBMS) ahead of the Super Bowl was really showcasing the tip of the iceberg for a technology that could significantly improve how content is delivered over today's wireless networks.
Peter Carson, senior director of marketing for Qualcomm, said the technology, which is also referred to as Broadcast LTE, could be used to more efficiently deliver content of all kinds, whether that be emergency instructions during a crisis or even subscription content like newspapers and magazines.
"There's a lot of potential anytime you have a lot of people wanting to receive the same information," Carson said.
Qualcomm recently assisted in enabling a commercial launch of Broadcast LTE in Korea with carrier KT Corporation. That rollout is based on Qualcomm's Broadcast LTE solution. KT is showcasing the technology in a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with an LTE-Advanced chipset. Qualcomm has also developed the middleware and SDK that makes the whole thing possible.
Carson said that while carriers in the United States still have to get the business model figured out before we'll see commercial launches here, the technology offers efficiencies that could be leveraged during emergencies such as the Boston Marathon bombing, when networks are significantly taxed.
"This is no longer just about live TV," Carson said, noting that things have progressed to the point the technology has been realized.
Carson explains that in the past, it used to be the wireline networks that would go down when traffic suddenly spiked, with the wireless networks serving as backup.
"That's all sort of been turned on its head," he said, as wireless networks are now the first to become congested during emergencies. "Every mobile user wants to get the late braking news," Carson said.
Aside from technological efficiencies, Broadcast LTE will also have positive effects on the operators’ bottom lines.
In a recent report, iGR Research forecast a reduction in busy hour bandwidth of 9.8 percent if LTE Broadcast were deployed, which means the amount of network capacity built in 2016 could be reduced by 9.8 percent, equivalent to an overall potential saving of $4.21 billion.
For the larger operators in the U.S., iGR estimates that full deployment of LTE Broadcast could equate to savings of $60 to $100 million in 2016 alone.