Efficient distribution of free-to-air and pay TV services to mobile receivers as well as stationary terrestrial TV receivers, with the integration of rooftop antenna reception and existing TV receivers is a major accomplishment in the latest Release of 3GPP to enable economically viable mobile and terrestrial TV services.
During the just completed 3GPP Release 14, the specifications related to MBMS have gone through a very significant set of enhancements. Large scale changes to architecture concepts, major enhancements to the radio layer as well as upgrades on the service layer enable the distribution of TV Services.
The new architecture enables reuse of functionalities defined up to Rel-13, but also permits TV Broadcast providers to build on their existing TV broadcast service infrastructure. This paper introduces the key concepts defined in 3GPP Rel-14 and provides some outlook for Broadcast services in 5G.
The provision of TV services on mobile devices had been attempted throughout several decades with more and less success. Today, TV services are available on mobile devices, primarily through mobile unicast and Over-the-top (OTT) services, typically in HD quality, comparable to existing TV service offerings – with fully integrated user interactivity and personalisation.
At the same time, terrestrial TV service delivery to stationary TV sets has also undergone enhancements not only in quality (High Definition (HD), Ultra High Definition (UHD), High Dynamic Range (HDR), etc.), but also reception, with for example, the availability of of unicast delivery. Given that the previous approach to defining mobile modes in dedicated broadcast systems was not successful, primarily due to the lack of broadcast receivers in mobile devices, 3GPP has undertaken a different approach in its latest Release 14 by providing a set of enablers which permit the distribution of TV services using mobile centric receiver technologies also for stationary TV sets.
In particular, the latest defined 3GPP enablers support (i) Mobile and fixed television reception in a common spectrum allocation, (ii) free-to-air services, (iii) quality levels comparable to broadcast television, and (iv) operation in accordance with EU decisions on 470-790 MHz spectrum. The efficient distribution of free-to-air and pay TV services as well as integration of roof-top antenna reception with existing TV receivers represent major accomplishments in the latest Release of 3GPP MBMS specifications.