Telstra has detailed what it claims is a world first trial of the Multicast Operation on Demand (MooD) feature of LTE-Broadcast technology as it gears up to have LTE-B enabled across its cellular network in early 2018.
LTE-B technology is designed to minimise the network load of popular, bandwidth-intensive real-time video content: Instead of the content being delivered as separate data streams to each user it is broadcast to those cell sites where demand is high so that all users on these sites are viewing the same data stream.
Without MooD a dedicated portion of each cell’s capacity must be permanently allocated to LTE-B, making that capacity unavailable for normal traffic.
The MooD feature optimises LTE-B by determining how many LTE-B compatible devices in any given area are consuming the same content and activating or deactivating LTE-B to maximise network efficiency at each location.
MooD works hand-in-hand with another feature, service continuity that enables devices to move in and out of LTE-B coverage areas without interruption to the video being viewed.
Telstra flagged plans to introduce both MooD and service continuity simultaneous with its LTE-B rollout when it announced plans for that rollout in February 2017.
At that time Telstra said it was working with its cellular network supplier Ericsson and Expway – a French company specialising in LTE-B — to have LTE-B “at national scale” in 2018 and that it would have MooD and service continuity in its network by November 2017.
Telstra’s ‘world first’ trial of MooD was announced in a blog post by Telstra’s group managing director networks, Mike Wright. Wright didn’t reveal any updates to the telco’s LTE-B rollout plans saying only that Telstra is now “one step closer” to its previously announced goal of network-wide LTE-B in 2018.
Wright said that, without MooD, the business case for LTE-B had been harder to make for areas with lower streaming, but with anticipated strong growth in live video content driven by major events and sports the need for LTE-B was growing.
In a March 2017 blog post on the website of the LTE-B Alliance, Wright said Telstra’s LTE-B strategy was underpinned by modelling that showed implementation of LTE-B justified by carrying as little as one percent of network traffic by 2021.
In that blog he said 99 per cent of Telstra’s LTE-E network was already LTE-B capable, and there would be “progressive activation across our footprint to be at national scale by 2018” at a time when Telstra was “heading into another year of major growth in sporting content demand.”
Wright did not mention the question of device support for LTE-B, however. The lack of support in the iPhone has been described as the “Achilles Heel” of LTE-B, and a report from Strategy Analytics in early 2017 found only 4 percent of handset models using LTE-B capable chipsets — and noted that the feature was not enabled in all these.
Matt Stagg, head of mobile video & content at UK operator EE — a founding member of the LTE-B Alliance along with Telstra, KT and Verizon — has previously indicated that EE will not launch LTE-B until there are sufficient LTE-B supporting handsets on its network.
A December 2015 list produced by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) included only six devices — three phones, two dongles and a hotspot — shipping LTE-B enabled.