Video consumption on mobile devices is getting more and more popular. Among others, a significant amount of traffic is TV centric, but generally delivered Over-The-Top. 3GPP is addressing needs to migrate TV services to 3GPP-based distribution systems by enhancing LTE Broadcast, developing new codec and service extensions and providing solutions to fulfil TV centric requirements.
This document presents the latest developments in 3GPP standards from an operator, end-device and network manufacturer point of view.
The Third Generation Partnership (3GPP) project since its creation in December 1998 has a long history in enabling mobile communication and had included enablers for media streaming and distribution in its very early roadmap.
Whereas initially the quality of video streaming media was limited on phones, with the advance of smartphones and tablets as well as high-speed and 4G mobile broadband networks, 3GPP-based devices have be-come the prime medium for accessing media services, and the quality is getting on par with the media consumed for example on stationary TV Sets.
In addition, more and more conventional linear and new on-demand type TV services are made available on mobile devices, such as operator’s TV bouquet or Over-The-Top (OTT) unicast services.
Whereas this trend is showing the demand, it is expected to result in de- livery cost issues as the demand grows, as forecast. Scalability is required and therefore, 3GPP has started an initiative to explicitly address TV Services, by promoting existing functionalities and providing enhancements, wherever necessary.
For this purpose, the 3GPP service requirements in TS 22.101 (1) have been extended just recently (please re- fer to clause 32) to address TV Enhancements. TV service support is referred as a feature whereby 3GPP networks can provide unicast and broadcast transport, referred to as “TV transport services”, to support distribution of TV programs.
Each type of TV service has different requirements in order to meet regulatory obligations and public service and com- mercial broadcaster’s requirements regarding content distribution. Requirements are optional to implement depending on the type of TV transport services a mobile network operator (MNO) chooses to offer.
In addition, there is a growing interest from Over-the-top (OTT) TV/video service providers to be able to reach their customers regardless of location, and available access technology, particularly when the consumers have cellular access but not access to a broadcast TV signal (if that signal exists at all).
Based on these considerations, this paper reviews the existing architectural options, the available enablers as well as potential enhancements to run and enable TV services on top of 3GPP access networks.
3GPP ARCHITECTURE FOR TV SERVICES
3GPP provides a set of enablers that permit the distribution of streaming user services on top of 3GPP bearers. A key benefit of 3GPP systems compared to other media distribution systems is the availability of unicast and broadcast bearers that both can be used for me- dia distribution.
Figure 1 provides an MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service) centric service architecture that may be considered to run TV services on top of 3GPP bearers taking into account broadcast and unicast bearers.