High-power LTE-A+ Broadcast trials start in Aosta and Paris

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015
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World’s first trials of LTE-A+ Broadcast from High Power High Towers starts simultaneously in Aosta and Paris

PARIS, France / AOSTA, Italy — Today TDF and Rai launched the first field trials of LTE-A+† Broadcast from high-power television stations, in Paris and Aosta. The joint project, based on the original “Tower Overlay” idea developed and implemented by Technische Universitaet Braunschweig (Germany) in 2013, involves contributions by GatesAir (USA) and is supported by IRT (Germany) and Expway (France).

The trials intend to evidence the concrete possibility of a true convergence between the LTE technology ecosystem on one side and the traditional broadcast infrastructure on the other side.

These trials come at a moment where the mobile industry is increasingly looking at eMBMS, an LTE embedded broadcast approach to serve a growing mobile video/TV consumption. Adapting LTE Broadcast to traditional high broadcasting towers creates the possibility of cooperation between the cellular and broadcasting networks, thus reducing network load, energy consumption and network costs.

Conversely, using such high towers with an LTE-inspired technology opens the possibility to reach all mobile devices without the need to add a specific broadcast receiver in the devices, a hurdle that proved very difficult to overcome in the past.

In the trials, two data streams share the same UHF channel in time-division: one stream is conveying conventional digital HDTV programs to be viewed on domestic DVB-T2 TV sets, and a second embedded stream is conveying a specific broadcast flow, intended for 4G LTE-A+ smart-phones, laptops and tablets.

In the Paris trial, one transmitter (Eiffel Tower) is used, operating on a UHF frequency (Channel 54, temporarily authorized by the CSA); the stream intended for mobile devices is aggregating a large range of digital media content (live TV, video on demand, catch-up TV, live radio, podcasts, magazines, newspapers, software updates); all content is received on the mobile device and stored until the end-user wants to view it, at his own chosen moment.

The Aosta Trial consists of two adjacent transmitters located in the Aosta Valley in the northern part of Italy operating on the same frequency (Single Frequency Network in UHF channel 53, at 730 MHz), which will be extended in the coming months by another two transmitters. The transmitted data stream is shared by 4 HDTV programmes using the DVB-T2 standard, and 4 high-quality mobile video streams using LTE-A+. HEVC video coding is used in both streams.

Prof. Ulrich Reimers, the “father” of the Tower Overlay concept, says: “I’m proud to see that our original idea is now becoming a reality, thanks to the joint work of my team which implemented the prototype systems used in the trials, and our partners Rai, TDF, and Gates Air. I am glad that we found supporters in Expway and IRT.”

Vincent Grivet / (alt: Olivier Huart:), Head of Broadcast Development (alt: CEO) at TDF said: “In 2013, we demonstrated the concept of broadcasting popular contents of all types to a tablet in the B2M project also from the Eiffel Tower, evidencing that broadcast could serve on demand media usage, not only live; running the test now with a technology that is close to LTE instead of DVB-T opens a whole new perspective of further converging the media and telecom environment, the two markets that TDF serves; this is very exciting and promising.”

Dr. Alberto Morello, head of Rai Research Centre in Turin, commented: “I believe that high-power TV stations, because of their wide coverage areas, may become an effective means to support the growing needs for live-video delivery to mobile terminals. The solution under test allows to allocate flexibly capacity to conventional television or to mobile-multimedia, according to the needs”.

Joseph Seccia, Manager of TV Transmission Strategy at GatesAir commented “Our goal is to provide the most effective media delivery solution for our clients; serving high quality media to mobile devices is a challenge that needs to be addressed, and High Tower LTE Broadcast could very well be one of the solutions”.

Thierry Sergent, CEO of Expway commented “As a leading provider of LTE Broadcast software for mobile operators and device makers, we are happy to explore how LTE-A+ Broadcast can enhance user experience and deliver more content to more people. We strongly believe in the convergence of broadcast and telecom and LTE-A+ Broadcast might be a key technology for upcoming 5G standard”.

Dr. Klaus Illgner-Fehns, the Managing Director of IRT, the R&D institute of the broadcasting companies ARD, ZDF, DRadio, ORF, and SRG/SSR, based in Munich commented “the Paris and Aosta trials of High Tower LTE-A+ Broadcast will be very useful for us to further assess the optimal models for delivery of TV content to mobile devices, complementing our own research on eMBMS such as IMB5.”

† LTE-A+ is an experimental enhancement of LTE-A eMBMS, intended to facilitate High Tower / High Power transmission of an eMBMS signal.