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BBC and EE to test drive TV over 4G at Commonwealth Games

EE and the BBC are teaming up to trial TV broadcasts using 4G mobile technology from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The trial will run through the games from July 23 to August 3, and the public will be able to see it alongside other new TV technology demos at the BBC’s Commonwealth Games Showcase in the Glasgow Science Centre

The technology was developed by the BBC, with EE, Huawei and Qualcomm, and by broadcasting to many people it once it provides an efficient and smoother alternative to sending each user their own live stream.

The Commonwealth Games hosts the UK's first test of TV broadcasting over 4G
The Commonwealth Games hosts the UK’s first test of TV broadcasting over 4G

“Broadcasting popular content to mobile devices offers the possibility of delivering content in a consistent quality without the buffering and resultant freezing that can affect conventional streaming over mobile networks at times of congestion,” blogged Andrew Murphy of BBC R&D’s Distribution Core Technologies section.

Live action from the games will be provided by the BBC in the MPEG-DASH compression format designed for mobile devices, and sent via the internet to a Huawei server at EE’s test labs, where it’s encapsulated in the multicast LTE transmisison format.

It’s then sent back to the Glasgow Science Centre, where it’s broadcast from two eNodeBs base stations on the 2.6GHz spectrum.

Test phones and tablets at the Science Centre use an application written by BBC R&D to display and navigate the live streams on handsets.

The application can be connected to the BBC iPlayer to integrate the live broadcast streams with the unicast (one-to-one) on-demand streams, so the user doesn’t notice any difference except that there’s no buffering from the broadcast streams.

EE CTO, Fotis Karonis, said: “This demonstration with the BBC is an incredible showcase for the capability of our 4G network to deliver live TV content.

“The quality of the network that we’ve built offers an amazing experience for consumers, and an amazing opportunity for broadcasters to more efficiently deliver their most popular content to multiple mobile users.”

It’s the first UK use of LTE eMBMS, a broadcast mode built into the 4G specifications to provide an alternative to one-to-one streaming.

With growing pressure to re-assign Freeview’s broadcast spectrum for mobile use, it gives broadcasters an way to work alongside mobile operators instead of competing.

These demonstrations will be on showfrom 10am-5pm in the Glasgow Science Centre’s Clyde Suite and form part of the wider BBC at the Quay festivities, including live 4K coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

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