Mobile telephony standards body 3GPP has added features to its Release 14 designed to enable mobile networks to deliver television services in new and improved ways. Television and content providers may now directly provide their services over standardised interfaces. Among the many enhancements to the system, highlights include greater radio broadcast range, free-to-air services and transparent mode delivery of digital video signals.
Advances in Release 14 will allow improved support for television services to both mobile devices and stationary TV sets over eMBMS (enhanced multimedia broadcast and multicast system over LTE) and unicast. Advances made include a standardised interface between mobile network operators and service providers and to the 3GPP system itself – for media delivery and control, radio enhancements for improved broadcast support and system enhancements to allow delivery of free-to-air receive-only services.
Television services in HD (high definition) quality are widely available through dedicated applications on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Although primarily carried over mobile broadband unicast connections, services are individually managed independently of the mobile operator who provides connectivity.
These applications are individually connected allowing for interactivity, personalisation and choice of content. Now, with Release 14 3GPP features, mobile network operators can offer additional capabilities and control to broadcasters and content providers. Traditional Terrestrial television services to stationary TV sets using large screens are currently evolving towards higher quality, HD and UHD (ultra-high definition) resolutions, as well as HDR (high dynamic range) for better picture quality. Television services also become more connected and interactive.
Several modifications were made to enhance the 3GPP eMBMS radio interface efficiency and flexibility, and to enhance the system architecture and media formats flexibility for content providers, broadcasters and mobile network operators.
3GPP eMBMS underwent a significant amount of system and architecture updates to improve support of TV services. These features directly address concerns that had been raised in the past regarding certain aspects of broadcasting business. Higher spectral efficiency for roof-top and car-mounted antennas, network sharing and improved flexibility can substantially reduce the cost of deployment and operation, for example. The free-to-air receive-only service matches the model of service delivery expected for public broadcasting. With such enablers, MNOs and broadcasters can flexibly build new TV services and applications and increase the reach of their services to a larger range of devices.