The BBC’s research and development department has revealed that it will be trialling live television broadcasting to mobile devices over 4G networks during the upcoming Commonwealth Games, as part of the BBC at the Quay festivities.
The trial, which will take place in partnership with EE, Huawei, and Qualcomm is different to the live streams that are currently available to viewers using apps such as the BBC iPlayer. These apps treat each streaming request individually, causing heavy congestion – and associated buffering and freezing – during major sporting events. Broadcasting a live stream over an entire 4G network, on the other hand, will allow users to access the programme in the same way they would on TV at home, which should increase reliability and broadcast quality, while minimising buffering and drop outs.
The trial is the first of its kind in the UK and uses LTE eMBMS, which is a broadcast mode already defined in the current 4G specifications, to broadcast live footage from The Games to 4G mobile devices.
Unfortunately these live broadcasts won’t yet be available to all 4G users, but will be part of a pop-up public showcase event at the Glasgow Science Centre which takes place throughout the Commonwealth Games. The public will be able to check out the broadcasts using a custom-built Commonwealth Games app installed on demonstration handsets.
The demonstration is designed to test the whole process from end to end. The BBC will provide live footage for the trial in MPEG-DASH format, which will be sent over an IP link to a Huawei server located in EE’s test laboratory. The footage will then be encapsulated within multicast and sent to a base station at the Glasgow showcase. It will be transmitted using the 2.6 GHz spectrum, and a Qualcomm enabled app will be used to display the live streams on mobile devices.
The trial is part of a wider project within the BBC research and development department, which is looking at broadcasting to mobile devices across all networks, and the benefits that this could bring to users. Consumers will be able to see the demonstrations between 10am and 5pm at the Glasgow Science Centre’s Clyde Suite, alongside other exhibitions about the future of television, including IP production and distribution, and Ultra-HD.
4G users all over the country will still be able to stream live footage of the games using apps on their smartphones and tablets. The BBC will be broadcasting events across TV and radio networks, online, and on the BBC Red Button for the duration of the Games, which start on 23rd July and continue for 11 days. As well as coverage of the sporting events themselves, a number of BBC shows such as The One Show, BBC Breakfast, A Question of Sport, and Who Do You Think You Are? will be broadcast from the BBC’s Pacific Quay base in Glasgow,
According to the BBC “In addition to the unprecedented television coverage, Glasgow 2014 will be delivered seamlessly across mobile, tablet, desktop and connected TVs, meaning audiences can get closer to the action, wherever they are.”