NEW YORK – Mobile TV broadcast is rearing its ugly head again.
The world may have determined that mobile TV broadcast -- via DVB-H or Qualcomm’s now defunct FLO TV -- is going nowhere especially in the United States and Europe. But LTE Broadcast -- which can effectively turn cell towers into the equivalent of mini-digital TV towers -- is looking to make a splash this week in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress.
Sequans Communications S.A., a 4G chip company based in Paris, France, announced Monday (Feb. 25) that it has successfully completed interoperability testing of Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE infrastructure equipment with Sequans’ eMBMS-capable LTE chipsets. eMBMS (evolved multimedia broadcast multicast service), also referred to as LTE Broadcast, is an advanced mobile video delivery technology, allowing mobile operators to multicast popular content over LTE cellular networks.
Enabling LTE Broadcast is an underlying technology of “carrier aggregation,” developed for LTE Advanced, a new specification designed for overall 4G enhancements.
At a time when network bandwidth is limited and operators’ spectrum is fragmented, LTE Advanced’s carrier aggregation is critical to “help group operators’ spectrum in a meaningful way,” said Georges Karam, Sequans CEO. For example, an operator can bundle two separate 5-MHz carriers and use this as one 10-MHz bandwidth. Or, the technology can be used “to combine two 20-MHz carriers to increase throughput to 40 MHz,” he added, allowing an operator to push big data.
Sequans is sampling next quarter its first LTE-Advanced chip, capable of carrier aggregation of 40 MHz total bandwidth. It is part of Sequans’ Cassiopeia platform, supporting 3GPP Release 10 specifications. With Cassiopeia, the company’s third generation LTE platform, Karam claimed, “we have leveraged nearly a decade of 4G experience to develop an exceptionally powerful LTE-Advanced solution.”
Intra-band and inter-band aggregation alternatives
Cassiopeia offers “extremely flexible carrier aggregation, allowing combination of any two carriers of any size up to 20 MHz each, contiguous or non-contiguous, inter-band or intra-band, for an overall total of 40 MHz of bandwidth,” he explained. Its implementation of carrier aggregation gives operators “the ability to get the most value possible from their LTE spectrum -- even the smallest slices,” he added.
Aside from helping spectrum-starved operators, carrier aggregation will provide more throughput capacity. Under such a scenario, “video will benefit,” said Karam, tempting operators to multicast popular content simultaneously over cellular networks.
Under today’s unicast model, when a user in a stadium streams video to his smartphone, he gets his own dedicated portion of the cell’s capacity to receive his content, even though another user sitting right next to him may be watching the same video delivered via a separate portion of the cell’s capacity. “That’s killing network capacity,” said Karam.
If a part of the network’s bandwidth can be turned into a multicast network by using LTE Broadcast, operators are likely to suffer less from the network congestion that results from the increasing use of video.