Sometimes the coolest things take time to become a reality. Just ask Telstra, they’ve been testing and trialling a thing called “LTE-B” for almost two years. Last night at the NRL Grand Final the technology came a step closer to becoming a consumer reality and we were there to go hands-on and see what’s coming in 2016.
What is it?
Ok, so LTE-B isn’t the prettiest name for a technology, but it probably beats “Push Multicast” or “Mobile Multicast” or whatever else was on the table.
In simple terms, it’s a technology that allows content to be pushed out to any number of mobile devices in one go, meaning that instead of 100 devices individually “requesting” a video or clip, that video or clip is pushed out to devices in one stream in the background of an app, making it ready to use whenever you want. Likewise with a live stream of video content, a single stream is pushed out to all devices connected to that mobile tower, rather than each of them making an individual request.
It’s a more efficient way of delivering content, and opens up a world of possibilities.
Where will it be used?
Major events. 82,000 people at ANZ Stadium, 10,000 people at a Music Festival, 50,000 people around the Albert Park Grand Prix track – who knows, but the concept is – wherever there are lots of people and some great video content.
What does it offer?
There are three types of content from what I saw tonight. Text or static content, like team lists and profile photos which can be viewed and browsed on the device.
— Trevor Long (@trevorlong) October 4, 2015
Live broadcast content, and with multiple streams available at major events – for TV purposes, this could allow people to view multiple live streams and choose the camera which they view the event from.
At a sports event, like the Grand Final, that could mean the TV Broadcast is one stream, the Spidercam flying over the field is another, and a specific feed following a certain player is another.
For Music lovers, you might choose from a camera fixed on the lead singer, a wide shot of the stage, or the combined mixed feed.
Finally, highlights. When something interesting or exciting happens, a minute or two of vision of that event can be pushed out to users who can then watch it back from any number of camera angles.
These highlights are stored on the device, so having attended the event and used the LTE-B service you can share the highlights from any angle with your friends or perhaps brag about an event on the train on the way home.
How well did it work?
The concept is amazing. Having witnessed one of the best Grand Finals in the NRL, it was awesome to watch back Thurston’s field goal, let alone his missed conversion after the full-time siren.
Over and over again, and the look on the face of Ben Hunt after a simple error put the game in the Cowboys hands using a camera that was fixed on him and didn’t switch away was something very unique.
The trail didn’t go ideally to plan for Telstra, with the understandable congestion of 80,000 people at the Stadium meaning they had to give priority to the average mobile users, not the few of us in the “Telstra Connected Lounge”. But the engineers got it going for us to experience at the end of the game, proving clearly the concept, but also that there is some work to do before a live service can be offered to the public.
With the data they’ve gathered from this trial, they’ll be ready for the next big event – whenever that is.
When will it be in action?
2016, that’s the plan. And there’s no doubt that Telstra would be keen to have it in place for the 2016 seasons of both AFL and NRL, however, they’ll need some serious tests before then with a saturated network before they will go public, without question this is something we’ll be seeing in 2016 though.
Who can use it?
Well that’s the tricky part. It’s not “just an app”. This is a combination of settings and work by the carrier (Telstra in this case), some middleware software and hardware, but importantly, device compatibility. We tested the service on the Samsung Galaxy S6 – goodness knows how long before it’s in more devices.