Verizon has confirmed that it will be testing LTE Broadcast protocol streaming during the Super Bowl on Sunday night, but the actual rollout will not happen until at least the third quarter of the year, pending software update deliveries from network hardware vendors and handset manufacturers.
LTE Broadcast is a subset of the LTE standard that is supposed to allow carriers finer control over multimedia transmission on LTE networks and is in theory supposed to behave more like a TV broadcast over a single channel, rather than the current method of each individual user pulling down a dedicated stream, which uses more bandwidth and capacity.
However, the Super Bowl test for LTE Broadcast will be extremely limited, being hosted by Verizon in a “remote Skybox” across the Hudson River from the venue in a building located in the Bryant Park area of Manhattan.
The good news is that the vast majority of devices currently sold by Verizon already support LTE Broadcast, or just need a small software update for full compatibility, with the test being supported by selected Samsung tablets and smartphones, so the need for brand new hardware will be minimized and Verizon will be able to focus on rolling out support for the protocol over its network soon, with network vendors Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson working on the rollout with the carrier.
Qualcomm’s failed MediaFLO mobile broadcast standard operated on the same principles as LTE Broadcast and was piloted by Verizon in 2008 before expanding to AT&T, but scarce demand for the service and devices meant that the standard went nowhere quickly and was doomed to be another footnote in the history of delivering mobile multimedia to customers. Its eventual failure resulted in Qualcomm selling off the spectrum and assets to AT&T, which were used in the carrier’s own LTE rollout.