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A future for LTE Broadcast?

For years, the wireless industry has danced around the mobile broadcast space, which seemed to be the final mountain to climb in the notion of a “three-screen” world. People love television, and if the wireless industry could somehow transform that experience from the big screen down to the handset – and charge accordingly – a financial return seemed assured.

Unfortunately, the core infrastructure for the cellular industry is spectrum, a transport medium that is not ideally suited to modern broadcast needs. Sure, television stations broadcast their programming over wireless spectrum, but that is generally limited to one channel being transmitted over several megahertz of spectrum. Attempting to transmit dozens of channels, let along the hundreds of channels people have become accustomed to in their homes, is a whole different matter.

The most recent attempt at this was helmed by Qualcomm, which through its MediaFLO subsidiary operated a broadcast service across a number of markets using 700 MHz spectrum holdings. While limited in the amount of content that could be delivered, as well as by limited device availability, prior to it being shuttered the service did show that it was possible.

The move into the mobile broadcast space received a bump at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show where Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam mentioned that the company was looking at the LTE Broadcast standard as a way to transmit broadcast content over Verizon Wireless’ mobile network. Supporting the move, big-name players such as Ericsson and Qualcomm also endorsed the endeavor, signaling that just maybe there is still a place for broadcast over cellular.

RCR Wireless News talked with Current Analysis senior analyst Lynette Luna about the latest news on the LTE broadcast front as well as what the chances were that the wireless space could finally crack the broadcast space.


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