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EE trial broadcasts FA Cup final coverage over 4G mobile network

Monday, June 1st 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

EE broadcast live coverage of the FA Cup final over its 4G network last Saturday.

The trial of what EE is calling ‘4G Broadcast’ saw multiple devices connected to one broadcast stream of live footage of the game – which saw Arsenal beat Aston Villa 4-0.

Selected viewers inside Wembley Stadium were able to switch between the pitch and the BBC’s coverage on their tablet, with a choice of live camera angles or a selection of replays.

The custom-built 4G Broadcast EE app also incorporated live updates of interactive stats from the game collected by data collection company Opta and an interactive function allowing viewers to ask questions.

Viewers could also access a bespoke version of the BBC Sport app created by the broadcaster’s research and development, and sport teams.

Live television events drive the highest peaks of usage on the EE network and that congestion can leave customers with pixelated or buffering video content.

EE sees 4G Broadcast – also known as LTE Broadcast – as a solution as it allows any number of devices in the same location to connect to a single multicast stream.

Unlike traditional ‘unicast’ mobile streaming, which sends content from the network to each individual user as they demand it, 4G Broadcast makes the same live video content available to everyone in the same location.

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.

'Big step forward'

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.”

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.”

In a previous trial at Wembley Stadium, EE measured mobile speeds of 400Mbps. It said the technology it used could deliver real-world speeds of 150Mbps.

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