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AT&T Plays Ball With LTE Broadcast

AT&T hosted its first live, on-site trial of LTE Broadcast technology during Monday’s College Football Championship matchup between Oregon and Ohio State AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

More bandwidth-friendly than unicast streaming, LTE Broadcast uses a dedicated portion of spectrum to deliver live video that can be captured by a multitude of compatible mobile devices that are within range of the signal.

“LTE Broadcast is a new mobile network technology AT&T is currently exploring that enables the delivery of content directly to all users with compatible devices within a designated timeframe and area,” John Donovan, senior EVP of AT&T Technology & Operations, noted in this blog post about the test. “It could be used to distribute a wide range of content including music, video, and software to specific areas within our LTE footprint, such as a single sports stadium.”

AT&T, he said, showcased LTE Broadcast for “invited guests,” and outlined some potential use cases for the technology, such as the delivery of a live video feed from a player’s helmet camera, alternative angles, and bonus footage to all compatible devices, without eating up all of the wireless bandwidth.”’

A spokesman noted that the demo during the game included a mix of alternative angles, as well as bonus feeds and features. 

“This trial demonstration signifies the early stages of our foray into LTE Broadcast, but we see a promising future with this technology,” Donovan added, noting that AT&T could also use it to deliver software updates to smartphones, connected cars, and other devices that become part of the growing “Internet of Things.” 

AT&T is the latest carrier to use a high profile sporting event to show off the technology. Verizon demonstrated the technique, which it calls LTE Multicast, during events surrounding last year’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. That bandwidth-saving approach might come in handy in the second half of the year, when Verizon launches a mobile-only pay-TV package that will offer in the range of 20 to 30 channels.