Telstra has announced implementing multicast operation on demand (MooD) technology on its LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) network, which shifts customers between unicast and broadcast transmissions depending on load.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Telstra head of Networks Mike Wright explained that previously, LTE-B technology had required a dedicated part of each cell's capacity to be set aside for broadcast content.
But with the MooD feature now enabled, network cells are only configured for LTE-B when there are several users viewing the same content, he said.
If one user is watching a particular football match, for example, unicast would be used to service that single user -- but if multiple Telstra customers in the same cell are also watching the same match, MooD technology would automatically switch them over to LTE-B.
"The use of LTE-Broadcast technology changes the underlying efficiency of live video delivery, as each cell can now support an unlimited number of users watching the same content with improved overall quality," he said.
Telstra has combined MooD with its service continuity technology, which Wright said ensures mobile customers are "seamlessly" shifted on and off the LTE-B-configured cells.
"For instance, you might be at a music festival streaming an event on your phone but need to leave the venue and make your way back home where LTE-B is not in use. Service continuity means you can continue to watch the stream and the transition will be seamless -- even though you have the left the broadcast area," Wright explained.
"Taking that a step further, MooD allows the network to determine how many LTE-B-compatible devices in any given area are consuming the same content. MooD then intelligently activates or deactivates LTE-B, ensuring the mobile network is as efficient as possible in that location."
Wright said Telstra is on track to enable the LTE-B capability across its entire mobile network next year, after announcing the project with Ericsson in February.
As part of the rollout, Ericsson and Expway at the time said they were working to implement MooD technology and service continuity between broadcast and unicast coverage areas by November.
Telstra said it was aiming to attain greater network efficiency through LTE-B, as it shares cell width with users all consuming the same media source without setting aside capacity permanently. LTE-B also reduces network congestion by utilising a constant bitrate data channel.
"It only turns it on when people are using it, so it's a fundamental thing that shifts the business case and the efficiency of LTE-Broadcast ... it's not a product, it's an efficiency tool," Wright said at the time.
"[MooD] technology will be crucial to improving the LTE-B experience for our customers. For instance, when network capacity becomes limited and multiple users are consuming the same content, the MooD capability can shift the transmission to broadcast."
Speaking on Telstra's ongoing LTE-B deployment in October, Wright told ZDNet that the software has been in the telco's network undergoing testing this year. He added that as well as being used to watch broadcast streams, it can also be utilised for mass software updates across devices.
"Really it's to getting to the critical mass of the devices and then we have to make an investment to configure the devices to use the technology," Wright told ZDNet.
"The other use case is software updates -- the ability to mass-deliver software or the same information to a lot of devices. That's getting a lot of interest."
Telstra has also demonstrated that it is possible to deliver LTE-B push-to-talk calls over its live 4G network using its commercial LTE Advanced Network for Emergency Services (LANES) solution.
The technology will allow public safety agencies and enterprises to extend their push-to-talk capabilities to more smartphone and device users, as well as providing additional capacity on land mobile radio networks, Motorola Solutions said earlier this year.
Telstra and Ericsson also announced their media content-delivery solution with 21st Century Fox in February, with the solution making use of Ericsson's cloud-based MediaFirst store for processing and origin of the content; Ericsson MediaFirst TV platform for personalisation of the content; and Ericsson Unified Delivery Network for global content delivery.
The system will send personalised movie content to consumers' devices without impacting device performance or data plans by multi-casting it during off-peak times.
According to Telstra CEO Andy Penn, the solution was designed in response to the increasing uptake of consumers watching entertainment on their smartphones, with Telstra providing its LTE-B and global media network capabilities for the solution.
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