Is eMBMS the next broadcast system standard?

Streaming of broadcast content is one of the main growth areas in mobile data traffic. However, it is inefficient to deliver broadcast content through unicast, one-to-one streaming. The latest release of the mobile standards, 3GPP3 release 14, which included updates of the eMBMS broadcast mode, will increase broadcast content distribution efficiency nonetheless.  Instead of limiting broadcast content to 60% of the total available capacity in the network, it is now possible to allocate 100% of the capacity to broadcasting.

eMBMS, also known as Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services, is a step towards a new broadcast standard. It could be a complement to current broadcast DVB-T/T2 and ATSC 3.0 standards when providing handheld/mobile reception.

“We see interest from our clients in being able to plan and analyze the coverage using eMBMS based on LTE,” said PROGIRA’s Technical Director, Mats Ek.

For this reason, PROGIRA has implemented the eMBMS standard based on LTE within PROGIRA® plan, PROGIRA’s flagship network and frequency planning software. Users of PROGIRA® plan software from more than 50 countries, expect to benefit from this latest adoption without delay.   With the addition of the eMBMS module within PROGIRA®plan, users can enter all relevant system parameters to allow simulations and optimizations of eMBMS networks.

The enhanced SFN capability in eMBMS release 14 is one interesting feature to look out for.  It allows the use of a longer cyclic prefix, thus enabling larger SFNs to be designed more efficiently. Also, there is greater flexibility in combining a more extensive range of bandwidth, modulation, and code-rate. It is now possible, for instance, to provide eMBMS services in an 8 MHz UHF broadcast TV channel, by combining two services using 3 MHz and 5 MHz bandwidth respectively.

What does the future hold for eMBMS?  Mats explained that it is still too early to tell if eMBMS shall be a technical and economical alternative.  At this stage, it appeared more as a complement to the current DVB-T/T2 or ATSC 3.0 broadcast networks.  Mats further highlighted that we would continue to see the usage of both traditional broadcast infrastructure with high power/high towers or more cellular networks. But indeed, mobile networks had an advantage in providing services to handheld devices.

Regarding spectrum efficiency, eMBMS has yet to be evaluated in comparison with the existing broadcast standards. As future development is going to be exciting, PROGIRA® plan continues to help users keep pace with the latest trends in broadcasting technology, with the complete integration of eMBMS module by October 2018.