EE trials live 4G broadcast of FA Cup final at Wembley stadium

Sunday, May 31st, 2015
EE logo

Wembley Stadium connected by EE showcases the future of television-on-the-go: 4G Broadcast

  • EE partners with BBC at FA Cup Final to trial revolutionary capability of 4G-powered mobile broadcasting, putting viewers in control of multiple camera angles and replays
  • 4G Broadcast uses 4G network to enable multiple mobile viewers of live HD television
  • Qualcomm, Huawei, EVS and Intellicore partner to bring 4G Broadcast innovation to life

EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, demonstrated live 4G Broadcast of the BBC’s coverage of Saturday’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. During the technology trial EE connected multiple devices to one broadcast stream of live footage over its 4G mobile network, and put viewers in control of multiple camera angles and replays using tablets.

A custom-built 4G Broadcast EE app allowed selected viewers in Wembley Stadium to switch between the pitch and the broadcaster’s footage on their tablet, with a choice of live camera angles or selection of replays, all with multiple camera options to show all the action. The app also incorporated live updates of interactive Opta stats from the game, and an interactive function allowing viewers to ask questions, such as “Which player has made the most passes in the game so far?”. In addition, viewers saw a bespoke version of the BBC’s Sport app, connecting to the EE 4G Broadcast demonstration, created by the broadcaster’s R&D and Sport teams.

Live television events drive the highest peaks of usage on the EE network, and 4G Broadcast – also known as LTE Broadcast – provides a solution to the issue of customers in the most crowded areas seeing pixelated or buffering video content due to congestion. 4G Broadcast overcomes the major capacity challenges of a mobile network when users are streaming live video by enabling any number of devices in one location to connect to a single multicast stream of live, feature-rich content with perfect HD quality video.

Unlike traditional unicast mobile streaming, which sends content from the network to each individual user as they demand it, 4G Broadcast, which uses eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) technology, makes the same live video content available to everyone in the same location, connecting any number of people all at the same time.

The trial showed the importance of partners across the mobile and broadcast industries working together to transport broadcast streams of video all the way from the cameras at pitch side to viewers’ devices, in the shortest time possible and with the highest quality.

EE intends to build the 4G Broadcast capability into its network in 2016, and will work with device makers, content owners and broadcasters to continue to enhance the service and to encourage adoption.

Olaf Swantee, CEO at EE, said: “4G is not just about faster web and video download speeds, it will also change where and how we watch live events on mobile devices. We are continuing to innovate, and to show how powerful 4G technology can be. In the future, 4G Broadcast will make live television available to mobile audiences in a way we have never seen before, and the cross-industry collaboration in this project has enabled a big step forward in making that possible.”

Rob Ray, Group Director of IT and Digital at Wembley Stadium, said: “This latest innovation highlights that through Wembley’s partnership with EE we are at the forefront of technological advancements in global sports and music entertainment venues. It demonstrates the value of the partnership and our commitment to our event owners, and to their fans and the experience they will enjoy at the stadium for years to come.”

Mobile and Broadcast working closely together

BBC Sport supplied three live streams to the EE 4G Broadcast demo – two direct feeds from the stadium coverage, and one feed of the broadcaster’s coverage that is available to its conventional viewers. The corporation’s R&D team then used its Stagebox technology to transfer the direct feeds from the Outside Broadcast truck linking the Outside Broadcast to the EE network in real time. R&D then used MPEG-DASH to encode the streams before sending them to EE a short time after they were captured live.

Since EE founded the Mobile Video Alliance (part of the DTG (Digital Television Group)) in 2013, there has been an increasing focus on bringing the mobile and broadcast industries closer together. Video is the fastest growing area of usage on the EE mobile network, and consumers increasingly expect content – live or on-demand – on all of their devices, both fixed and mobile.

EE and the UK broadcaster worked alongside the best technology companies from mobile and broadcast to showcase the 4G Broadcast innovation at Wembley, including:

  • Qualcomm® – The Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor powers the tablet used in this demonstration. To support LTE Broadcast functionality on smart devices, QTI offers a comprehensive LTE Broadcast solution for eMBMS, which includes a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor, broadcast client software featuring Qualcomm® RaptorQ™ forward error correction technology, and an LTE Broadcast software development kit (SDK).
  • Huawei – The world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer provides the industry-leading, end-to-end 4G Broadcast delivery solution, including Hybrid Video Solution Platform, eMBMS core network, eNodeB and integration services.
  • EVS – The leading provider of live video solutions to the sports and broadcast markets provides the 4G trial with its innovative FanCast solution. The solution comprises three EVS technologies – an XT3 live production server, IPDirector content management suite, and the cloud-based multimedia distribution platform, C-Cast, and enables production teams to add value to their media services. By extracting key elements almost immediately from the game’s camera feeds and distributing them to a mobile app available at dedicated areas of the stadium, fans can consume replays, highlights and multi-camera angles of the game while watching it live in the stadium.
  • Intellicore – The leading provider of mobile applications for Sports and Media with their Playrz solution built the interactive 4G Broadcast application for EE. The application allows fans to select the view they prefer from an elegant picture-in-picture overlay. Users can choose from three live FA Cup Final video feeds, as well as instant replay clips from multiple camera angles. Additionally, fans can track their favorite players with real-time stats and interact via questions – for example: “Which player has made the most passes in the game so far?”

Matt Stagg, Head of Video at EE, and founder of the Mobile Video Alliance, said: “Momentum is growing around 4G Broadcast as companies from mobile, from broadcast and from content industries recognise how it can finally be the way to more efficiently deliver a truly great TV experience to large numbers of mobile viewers. This wasn’t possible with 3G, but it is part of the 4G roadmap and we’re investing in this innovation to give customers a great mobile video experience, wherever they are.”