Not only did we see the Ohio State Buckeyes defeat the Oregon Ducks during the first College Football Playoff Championship Game held at the AT&T Stadium, we also witnessed AT&T debut its new LTE-Broadcast technology, which utilizes the 4G network to transmit the same content simultaneously to multiple wireless devices.
As reported by FierceWireless, Ma Bell took the opportunity to run a short limited trial run its new technology during the game. AT&T, alongside partner MobiTV, aired two ESPN video streams from the game, specifically showing replays from multiple camera angles, at the same time displaying a data stream showing a constant feed of game information.
AT&T broadcasted the streams from its cell sites near and around the stadium, which further benefitted from some nifty upgrades courtesy of network supplier Ericsson. And because regular AT&T customers' phones do not yet support the new LTE-Broadcast technology, none of the streams were accessed by the public. What AT&T did instead was get Samsung and Qualcomm to set up several Galaxy Note 3 devices equipped with the needed components to access the multicast signal, and then demo them at the event. But it should be noted that LTE-Broadcast is part of the LTE standard, which means mobile devices should be able to support it natively in the near future.
But wait -- aren't 4G networks equally capable of transmitting the same content over separate streams to existing mobile devices today? Yes, but LTE-Broadcast does a more efficient job of transmitting high-bandwidth content to a greater number of users in the same place.
Because of that capability, LTE-Broadcast is the ideal technology for transmitting big events (like football games and other major sporting extravaganzas). After all, nobody ever wants to miss the replay of that game-winning home run or touchdown. Instead of having thousands of mobile devices access the same content via individual streams from the same few cell sites (which makes them prone to overloading), the event can be transmitted as one stream through the use of LTE-Broadcast technology. That way, everybody gets to see their favorite teams win (or lose) and the network gets to utilize only a fraction of its total bandwidth.
While this is the first time that AT&T has demoed LTE-Broadcast, Verizon Wireless had already done a similar demo in New York City just before the 2014 Super Bowl. Verizon's partners included Ericsson, MobiTV, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Sequans. Big Red has stated that its entire LTE network is already LTE-Broadcast-ready, and it has started seeding the market with LTE-compatible mobile devices. Having said that, AT&T definitely has its work cut out for it.
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