AT&T Expects to Begin Deployment of LTE Multicast in 2015

AT&T plans to make LTE Broadcast technology available sometime next year. Also known as LTE Multicast, the technology is based upon evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS), which allows for content to be sent to a large number of subscribers simultaneously, leading to a more efficient use of network resources. AT&T plans to use Qualcomm’s 700MHz D and E Block spectrum that it acquired in 2011. Content delivery is expected to change dramatically with the new service.

att“You should expect that you’ll see us begin to roll out Multicast capabilities as we move through next year,” said John Stankey, chief strategy officer of AT&T, at last week’s Oppenheimer Technology, Internet & Communications Conference in Boston. “Initially, we’ll be doing it on a targeted basis and we’ll be doing it in some specific areas where we think there’s immediate deployment.”

“Verizon Wireless plans to start seeding its device base with phones that can support LTE Multicast in the fourth quarter and also plans to commercially launch the service in 2015,” reports FierceWireless. “Speaking at the same conference earlier this week, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo called the advent of Multicast ‘the pivotal point that starts to change the way content is delivered over a mobile handset which opens up content into the wireless world.’”

Stankey suggested that the customer relationship with mobile content is evolving, which is likely to impact how content is licensed and sold. For now, however, consumers are growing more demanding about accessing content whenever they want and “there’s a willingness to pay,” he said.

Video currently drives the bulk of wireless data traffic, followed by music, he noted.

“It’s important that we understand how customer buying decisions are going to be linked to content over time,” Stankey added, pointing to TV services in the home as a primary reason customers pay for broadband today. “I think over time in the mobile space there will be a tighter link to aspects of what kind of content people can consume and how easily they can get at what they want to watch.”

In a related story, Wired UK reports that South Korea’s mobile broadband is something to be envied, already boasting 99 percent LTE coverage including “coverage not only above but below ground, so commuters can stream media and surf the Web on devices rather than rely on data stored on handsets.”

“This shift to cloud-based applications and services has had a huge impact on the Korean networks as demand for data has jumped by a factor of 300 to 400,” explains the article. “To cope with this ever-increasing appetite for data, networks have already rolled out LTE A, or LTE Advanced technology. LTE uses a single 850MHz carrier with 10MHz bandwidth and a maximum download of 75Mbps. LTE A uses two carriers on 850MHz and 1.8GHz with 10MHz + 20MHz bandwidth (totaling 30MHz). This allows the maximum download speeds to jump to a scorching 225Mbps.”

Related Story:
Wi-Fi Hotspot Speeds are Still Faster than 4G in the U.S., but That Could Soon Change, GigaOM, 8/7/14

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