LTE Broadcast (EMBMS) Shown Running on Verizon's Band 4 LTE on Qualcomm Hardwareby Brian Klug on January 11, 2013 11:05 PM EST
Another demo I was impressed by at the Qualcomm booth was LTE Broadcast (EMBMS - Evolved Multimedia Broadcast / Multicast Service) demonstrated on a live test network showing an example live streaming event video player. EMBMS is a service which allows, as its name suggests, multicast delivery of both live streaming video and data. The service is a part of the 3GPP specification and is aimed at reducing network load when there's some traffic workload that everyone on the network in either a single cell, region, or entire network are likely to watch or view. The ideal workload example is a stadium where participants all want to watch multiple angles of broadcast video — rather than unicast individual video streams to each user in the stadium which would quickly overwhelm the network, the idea is to multicast the same video streams or data to every user on the network. A middleware layer on the device then exposes EMBMS data to applications or the OS for it to use.
Qualcomm provides a middleware layer on its devices that implement EMBMS for applications to use, along with an SDK and APIs for developers to make their applications able to use EMBMS data. The use case in the stadium scenario involves a user installing a stadium application and then accessing the streams through it. Running this at the 2014 "Big Game" was alluded to by Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam during his keynote, and I'm told there's considerable pressure to make this happen. Of course this will require the appropriate network resources and either updates to devices or new devices with the middleware layer.
What was interesting was that this demo was running on 10 MHz of Verizon's Band 4 just for the show. EMBMS works by allocating a certain number of resource blocks to the service, and in Release 9 (what this demo was running) up to 60 percent of the resource blocks for a given carrier can be allocated to the service. The same demo and streams were playing back at their own booth as well, which I took a look at. There were four 1.9 Mbps WVGA streams running H.264 video, which looked very good compared to the usual couple hundred kilobits streams I see some large events running across a unicast layer.