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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Mobile TV

Flix Snip expands European video distribution with Huawei Video

By Robert Briel

Short-form content app and VOD service Flix Snip has announced a major distribution partnership with Huawei.

Flix Snip’s premium, short form content is now available to Huawei mobile phone users across Spain and Italy as part of the Huawei Video SVOD service. This announcement builds upon the momentum of Flix Snip’s recent launch in Russia on the MegaFon and Rostelecom telecoms services.

Huawei Video delivers a wide selection of regularly updated international, European, and local content. Subscribers in Spain and Italy can now access Flix Snip’s catalogue of short format premium entertainment content, which has a running time of 20 minutes or less. Flix Snip offers a range of genres including: drama, animation, children, family, comedy, science-fiction and horror. All content is localised and dubbed in Spanish and Italian.

“Flix Snip is a perfect fit for our Huawei Video service because it lets subscribers access high-quality, short-form content conveniently on the go,” says Jaime Gonzalo, VP of Huawei Mobile Services in Europe.

“Our users want compelling short movies and series that they can dip in and out of. The Flix Snip service provides a huge range of content in a number of genres that meet the viewing requirements of our expanding mobile video platform.”

Sebastien Perioche, Founder and CEO, Flix Snip adds, “The way in which we consume content has changed dramatically. Viewers are more often watching video on their mobile devices and they want to access curated, premium content that’s congruent with their busy lifestyles at the touch of a finger. We are delighted to partner with Huawei and we look forward to announcing more content distribution deals around the world in the near future.”

Czech Digi unveils Apple TV app

By Chris Dziadul

All Digi TV customers in the Czech Republic can now access the service via Apple TV.

Commenting on the development, Iveta Slapalova, director of customer services at Gigi TV, said: “In addition to expanding and improving programme offerings this year, Digi TV is focusing on enhancing features and user comfort for our customers. The Apple TV app was preceded by the launch of Digi TV for Samsung’s smart TVs. We have also changed the Digi TV user interface in the browser on computers. More news will follow”.

Arris’s set-top box still remains the most popular way to receive Digi TV. However, the number of connections with Samsung smart TVs, mobile phones, tablets and PCs is also increasing.

Digi TV notes that it is also working on making its service available on other brands of smart TVs and multimedia devices.

EE to launch UK’s first 5G service

By Julian Clover

The first 5G service to operate in the UK will launch on May 30th in in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.

Customers will be given access to a new BT Sport HDR app that will be exclusive to 5G plans and worth a nominal £15 per month. Users will be able to cast the HDR pictures to their TV. The standard BT app is also there at £10 per month plus a Video Data Pass thsat includes selected video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BT Sport, TV Player and MTV Play without using your data. The video services are dubbed ‘swappable benefits’, another is a Gamer’s Data Pass, also with zero-rated data.

From today, consumers and businesses can pre-order the new devices, including smartphones from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Oppo. However, Huawei product has been dropped from the offer. It follows Google’s decision to pull its branded apps from future Huawei phones.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said: “This is the start of the UK’s 5G journey and great news for our customers that want and need the best connections. We’ve started with 5G in some of the busiest parts of the UK, the widest range of 5G devices in the UK, and plans that give customers the best mobile connection and great benefits.

“We’re adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network to increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most. 5G will create new experiences with augmented reality, make our customers’ lives easier, and help launch entirely new businesses that we haven’t even imagined. We’re upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable.

EE is launching 5G in what its describes as the “busiest parts of the UK”. It expects customers to experience an increase in speeds of around 100-150Mbps even in the busiest areas. Some customers will break the one gigabit-per-second milestone on their 5G smartphones. The fastest speed possible when EE launched 4G in 2012 was just 50Mbps.

Plans start from 10GB (£54 per month) and extend up to 120GB (£74 per month).

Paolo Pescatore, PP Foresight, Tech, Media & Telco Analyst said asking customers to pay a premium will be challenging. “Articulating the merits and offering features like swappable benefits will be paramount. Bundling a range of services and content will allow the telco to differentiate over rivals. This is a sensible approach given the huge cost of acquiring spectrum and rolling out expensive new network technology. The initial premium will quickly erode as we’ve seen with previous generations.”

In addition to the six launch cities, in 2019 EE will also be introducing 5G across the busiest parts of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. And in 2020, even more towns and cities will get 5G sites including: Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester and Wolverhampton.

Caiway and Delta TV integrate into a single multiscreen platform

By Robert Briel

Dutch cable and internet service providers Delta and Caiway are to provide TV services from these brands on a shared platform, integrated via AminoTV and Stoneroos OTT Now!.

This move comes a year after both Delta and Caiway were acquired in separate deals by Swedish private equity group EQT and merged into Delta Fiber Netherlands.

Delta and Caiway will continue to operate as separate brands, and integrate their pay-TV operations seamlessly and enable a geographically redundant platform via its AminoTV end-to-end multiscreen video platform. The roll-out has already started and will continue throughout 2019. Delta Fiber began working on a shared platform in January 2018 and has continued to make improvements to the QoS of both Delta and Caiway during 2018 and 2019. Each brand will be able to offer an integrated and unified user interface while benefiting from a common, modular backend.

The OTT service is based on Stoneroos OTT Now! platform and includes native smart phone and tablet applications for iOS and Android, as well as a web client, to deliver a smooth and consistent user experience across all platforms.

Making use of the OTT Now! solution, Stoneroos and CAIWay were able to create a cutting-edge brand new TV experience for the new IPTV Platform in a very short time.

CAIWay subscribers now have the opportunity to experience all interactive features such as watching and pausing Live TV, Catch-up services and Recordings on their preferred devices. The new platforms also allows to cast programmnes from mobile devices to regular TV sets using Google Chromecast.

The roll out of the new CAIWay Interactive TV platform builds on the successful introduction of the Delta IPTV platform.

John Wittekamp, CTO at Delta Fiber Netherlands, says: “In enabling us to bring both services onto a single unified backend platform, Amino helps us to boost our efficiencies and provide all our subscribers with an advanced, modern TV service. We can deliver live, on-demand and cloud PVR capabilities through a TV platform that enables us to provide a user-friendly and highly personalised customer experience.”

Amino CEO Donald McGarva notes: “The Delta transformation project delivering modern TV experiences for all its subscribers has proven to be highly successful – gaining new customers and driving net promoter scores that rank with the industry best. We now look forward to replicating this success with Caiway and are pleased to share our knowledge and experience in deploying a smart, cost-effective solution that’s right for both brands.”

McGarva concludes: “Helping operators such as Delta and Caiway future-proof their operations is central to what we do at Amino. Working closely with TV operators of all types to deliver complex cable-to-IP transformation solutions as we all move toward an all-IP future is critical to business success for both our company and our clients.”

UPC extends Horizon Go in Poland

By Chris Dziadul

UPC Polska has made Horizon Go accessible on Android TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Up until now it has only been available on iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices, as well as via www.horizon.tv on PCs.

Horizon Go currently gives UPC Polska customers access to over 130 TV channels, as well as thousands of films and series on an on demand basis.

Germany launches TV via 5G broadcast trial

By JΓΆrn Krieger

[WATCH VIDEO] The 5G Today project has officially started its field trial for TV broadcasting via 5G at a kick-off event at German broadcast technology research institute IRT in Munich today.

The project partners Bavarian public broadcaster BR, IRT, Kathrein, Rohde & Schwarz and Telefónica Deutschland are jointly testing broadcasting options for 5G technology. The new large-area 5G field trial in the Bavarian alpine region is covered by two high-performance transmitters at BR transmitter sites in Ismaning near Munich and on the top of the Wendelstein mountain. Both operate with 100 kilowatts ERP.

With the help of the high power of the transmitters and the high transmission towers (HPHT), the broadcasting of TV channels covering large areas can be tested based on the new broadcast mode FeMBMS (Further evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service). FeMBMS allows far-reaching distribution of content across large coverage areas with a radius of up to 60 kilometres.

The 5G Today project is intended to lay the foundation for the efficient transmission of broadcast content in 5G networks. It has been supported by the Bavarian Research Foundation since 2017.

“I am delighted that today we can launch the world’s first large-scale test network for 5G broadcasting,” said Ulrich Wilhelm, director general of BR and currently chairman of German public broadcaster association ARD. “We must design our future digital communications infrastructures in such a way that everyone can continue to benefit from the diversity of media content.”

What has been lacking so far in the distribution of broadcast content is an efficient and direct way of reaching users with live and linear content on mobile devices without additional costs for users. That is why BR together with IRT and three industry companies launched the 5G Today project in 2017. The project will test how 5G broadcasting can be used to create an overlay infrastructure that can simultaneously serve millions of future 5G mobile reception devices. The aim is neither to occupy the regular mobile networks nor to incur additional costs for citizens.

The two test transmitters are operated as a single frequency network (SFN) on channel 56/57 (750-760 MHz). Kathrein provides the antenna system while HPHT transmitters from Rohde & Schwarz are used for the 5G transmission. Telefónica Deutschland is contributing the frequencies.

“With this field trial covering Munich and the Bavarian alpine region, we now have a unique and true pioneer project – even if it will still take a few more years for commercial reception devices to become available and before public operation will be possible,” said IRT’s managing director Michael Hagemeyer. “The test will provide important insights for our research.”

IRT is coordinating the project and is developing a prototype FeMBMS receiver based on a software-defined radio (SDR) solution. In future, this technology could be integrated into smartphones, tablets and TV sets for the reception of live and linear content over 5G. The test receiver for the kick-off event is provided by the Institute for Communications Technology of Technische Universität Braunschweig.

The test operation of 5G Today will run until autumn 2019, after which the results and further exploitation of the findings will be evaluated. The project ends on October 31, 2019.

Stoneroos announces new mobile interactive TV app for Delta Fiber Netherlands

By Robert Briel

Stoneroos has delivered a completely new mobile interactive TV application for Delta Fiber Netherlands, available for iOS and Android devices.

Stoneroos is a provider of interactive TV apps and OTT solutions. Delta Fiber Netherlands is an internet, TV and (fixed and mobile) telephony provider in The Netherlands, operating under the brands Delta and Caiway.

The introduction of the new app is part of a Partnership Agreement between Delta and Stoneroos, which was started last year by deploying a set-top box (STB) application for its new all IP-based service model, based on Amino set-top boxes. The introduction of the new, native mobile apps is another step towards Delta offering its customers a seamlessly integrated television experience across all platforms. Delta, that serves the province of Zeeland, launched its interactive IPTV platform in January 2018.

The new mobile app, available for smartphones and tablets, allows viewers to watch linear live TV, record programmes, catch-up past programmes as well as re-start a programme from the beginning. The app is optimised for the two formats, smartphone and tablets, to offer the viewer the best possible UI experience.

The main features of the new mobile app are: – watch channels live – not only in The Netherlands, but across the European Union.
– have access to dozens of radio stations and non-stop audio music channels
– a fully featured EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) featuring the Stoneroos-patented TV view feature
– catch-up on programmes broadcast during the past seven days
– ‘replay TV’, allowing users to re-start live programmes (begin gemist)
– record programmes in the cloud
– cast a programme on the big screen using Google Chromecast
– a special PIP (Picture-in-Picture) feature for the tablet version, which allows users to open others apps while continue to watch television
– viewers who watch a programme on one device, can stop and continue to watch on any other device

Stoneroos has used its white-label OTT Now! product, fully optimised for the Delta brand, which connects directly to the Amino TV platform API’s.

“We enjoy working for a Dutch customer and being able to make a NextGen product and try to make a difference by making the app user-friendly, intuitive, modern, personal and fast” said Annelies Kaptein, CEO of Stoneroos.

“Delta is pleased with the knowledge and expertise of Stoneroos and the way they have helped to develop our new interactive TV platform. With this mobile addition to our offer, our customers have even more freedom and endless possibilities to watch TV wherever and whenever they want. With the additions, our customers get a TV platform that excels in user-friendliness and delivers a highly personalised experience” said Timmy Langeveld – Senior Product manager Interactive TV at Delta Fiber.

Let month, Delta Fiber Netherlands, updated its set-top box (STB) application from Hilversum-based Stoneroos in order to allow multicast IP streaming and to integrate the Metrological App Store.

Eleven Sports and Onefootball create in-app PPV football experience

By Robert Briel

Eleven Sports has partnered with digital football platform, Onefootball, for the launch of the first in-app, pay-per-view live streaming football offer.

Fans in the UK and Ireland can now purchase and watch any LaLiga match carried by Eleven Sports for £2.99 (€3.49 in Ireland) on a pay-per-view basis via the Onefootball app.

Plans are also in development for the Onefootball pay-per-view option to be rolled out for Serie C matches in Italy, before the model is launched in other Eleven Sports markets from the 2019/20 season onwards.

“Fans worldwide are seeking more flexible ways to watch live sport. Our pioneering partnership with Onefootball enables us to cater for those needs, while also broadening our reach to a wider fan base,” said Danny Menken, Eleven Sports Group Managing Director.

“This international partnership ensures Eleven Sports continues to lead the way in offering innovative viewing solutions for fans, following our platform agnostic model that means our content is widely available at a very reasonable cost.

“We can also leverage Onefootball’s intelligence on their significant global user base which can be easily targeted through direct and personalised in-app marketing. We are excited to launch this offer with Onefootball in the UK and Ireland before rolling it out in our other markets worldwide.”

Lucas von Cranach, Founder and CEO, Onefootball, added: “Modern football fans are challenging the status quo. They want to be empowered to consume live content in a more flexible, easily accessible way.

“Eleven Sports and Onefootball share the same vision how live football should be brought to the fans today. We are thrilled about this partnership.

“Offering live streaming as part of the Onefootball app is the next big step in our platform evolution.”

NAB 2019: Rohde & Schwarz presents 5G Broadcast

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German technology company Rohde & Schwarz will present a solution for the future transmission of media content with 5G Broadcast at NAB 2019.

Broadcasters will be able to reach smartphone users directly by using a high-power high-tower (HPHT) network topology as an overlay for mobile networks.

As a part of the Bavarian research project 5G Today, Rohde & Schwarz is investigating large-scale TV broadcasts over an HPHT 5G Broadcast field trial near Munich. The project is also supported by Kathrein, Telefónica Germany and Bavarian public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, who is providing two HPHT sites for the field trial.

Using the HPHT concept will allow broadcasters to distribute video over 5G networks with all the advantages of classic broadcasting like high quality levels as known from HDTV broadcasting, low latency live content as well as enormous spectrum efficiency and wide coverage, according to Rohde & Schwarz. This will enable broadcasters to bring their assets for efficient distribution of high-quality video into the future 5G ecosystem.

With a cell radius of more than 60 km in each transmission area, 5G Broadcast offers broad coverage for transmitting media content, even in rural areas. This reduces necessary infrastructure investments since large areas can be covered with just a few transmitters.

The company will highlight the advantages of this technology at the Rohde & Schwarz booth and will demonstrate the first end-to-end solution for LTE/5G Broadcast.

Sky Deutschland opens Sky Kids app to all subscribers

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland has made its Sky Kids app available to all subscribers free of charge.

The Sky Kids app, launched in July 2016, has previously been restricted to subscribers of the Sky Entertainment package. Now customers in Germany and Austria signed up to any package with Sky+ or Sky Q can access the app on their tablets and smartphones (iOS/Android).

The app offers children a selection of series and entertainment programmes with a tailor-made, easy-to-navigate user interface. The content can be accessed across all EU countries and downloaded for offline viewing.

Sky Mobile extends streaming offer

By Julian Clover

Sky Mobile has announced a new version of its Watch proposition that allows customers unlimited streaming from any Sky app. This includes Sky Go, Sky Kids, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema.

Previously customers were able to use Sky Go Extra to watch Sky content offline, but this is the first time it has been able to stream on the go, without the customer eating into their data allowance.

Sophia Ahmad, Director of Sky Mobile, said: “We launched Sky Mobile to connect our customers to more of what they love. Streaming films and TV shows on-the-go is now one of the most popular ways to pass time while travelling or commuting – and our new Watch offer makes it easier for our customers to stay up to date with the unmissable must-watch television, from Game of Thrones to F1 races, that we know our customers love.”

Watch is available to all Sky Mobile customers, though the precise nature of the content depends on which Sky package the customer has signed up to.

MWC 2019: video on mobile networks has grown on average 50-60% YoY

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

Research from Openwave Mobility has found that over the past five years, video on mobile networks has grown on average 50-60% year-on-year (YoY), while in many developing markets, the rate is more than twice this.

The findings are part of the latest Mobile Video Index (MVI), now in its third edition. Along with live data from over 30 mobile operators globally, the latest edition of the MVI also features insight from the Mobile Video Industry Council, an industry group that includes BT, EE, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, MTS, Telus, KPN, Orange and Vodafone.

Along with the phenomenal growth in mobile video, the MVI examines mobile data traffic patterns – which are highly irregular, making it almost impossible for operators to plan ahead. For example, the report documents how one of the largest operators in the world has a ratio of peak to average traffic of over three times, while another operator sees 80% of the day’s traffic in just two hours – straining the Radio Access Network (RAN) to the limit and impacting subscriber Quality of Experience (QoE).

Traffic volumes with high resolution videos will grow exponentially with 5G, and forecasts from the Mobile Video Industry Council show that 90% of 5G traffic will be video. In such an environment, QoE becomes a delicate balancing act for operators that have to juggle video picture quality with video delivery quality. The MVI reports on this and provides insight on the effective use of key performance indicators (KPIs) by some operators on aspects such as buffering versus higher resolutions.

“5G is not just another G” according to both Analysys Mason and ABI Research, both of which held roundtables at the Mobile Video Industry Council. They explained how 5G deployments will shape the way video services evolve. The MVI also reports on the unique perspective of 5G’s video capabilities from two major OTT organizations, Hulu and BT Sport. Both organizations outline how 5G provides the capability for completely new premium video services over mobile. The report summarizes strategies to build OTT partnerships using premium video and advertising, as all ecosystem players fight to be at the heart of the new mobile video ecosystem.

“Operators have invested billions in 5G, but it is not the panacea that some think it is,” said Matt Halligan, CTO and Head of Engineering at Openwave Mobility.

“5G will open the door to even more competition – from new categories of players – and the promise of low latency means AR and VR services will be high on the menu for subscribers. QoE is already hard to manage, and immersive video services are 33x more data intensive than 480p video. So, unless operators have a robust strategy to differentiate their service, they could be sleepwalking into a 5G nightmare.”

Kaltura enhances cloud TV platform for mobile viewing

By Robert Briel

Kaltura has released a new version of its Cloud TV Platform SDK, including a feature to provide faster, smoother playback on low internet connectivity for mobile devices.

The enhanced SDK now also includes HEVC support, real-time analytics, as well as multiple ad solutions support. including Facebook Audience Network (FAN).

Kaltura’s Cloud TV Platform SDK is already in use – powering 20 million views per day, and supporting over 6,000 different types of Android devices – in cloud TV deployments by Tier 1 operators and media companies, including PJSC VimpelCom, which in September 2018 launched its mobile TV service, Beeline TV, powered by Kaltura.

“The essence of Cloud TV is ensuring that whenever a person wants to watch TV, they simply can, at the highest quality, regardless of the device they choose or their location. As mobile video consumption continues to grow, we at Kaltura have been working on the state-of-the-art technology behind-the-scenes that makes this possible,” said Dr. Shay David, Kaltura Co-founder, president and general manager, Media and Telecom.

“At Kaltura, we relentlessly innovate to find new ways to ensure that subscribers, no matter where they might be, enjoy amazing TV service quality. This new generation of our Mobile SDK ensures that mobile viewing is a superior

Kaltura’s new playback optimization solution for mobile viewing was developed by monitoring internet connectivity data at the network level in addition to device and player-level data.

This monitoring enables Kaltura’s mobile SDK to dramatically shorten load and handshake time, thus delivering a smoother and faster video start time. This new solution will be particularly relevant in emerging markets which may have slower mobile network connections. It will also be a major boost to viewing of primetime events with high
levels of simultaneous viewers.

In addition, Kaltura’s new Mobile SDK version now supports HEVC and provides real-time analytics such as indications of join time, play failures, time spent on the service and more, helping the TV service provider optimize and accelerate their business decisions.

Kaltura’s Mobile SDK also now supports multiple advertising solutions, including Facebook Audience Network (FAN) Facebook ads, and Google AdManager.

Vodafone to trial TV via 5G in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Vodafone Deutschland and regional public broadcaster WDR will test how TV and video-on-demand (VOD) content can be broadcast via 5G in Germany.

The offer is to be transmitted in HD quality and received via an app on mobile devices. WDR will distribute its content through a 5G test system which Vodafone intends to activate directly at a TV production facility for the first time.

The possibility of receiving the TV and VOD content is to be tested in the course of the year – with the help of dedicated software – on a smartphone or tablet with 5G support that is still in product development stage. The trial is currently scheduled to run until the end of 2020.

Initially, the partners will test the data transmission at the 5G Lab in Düsseldorf and at the 5G Mobility Lab in Aldenhoven. Next year, the trial will be extended to the city centre of Cologne, using Vodafone’s 5G network on the WDR campus.

In Bavaria, regional public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk and partners have launched a trial for TV transmissions via 5G in December 2018.

Short format app Flix Snip comes to Rostelecom

By Robert Briel

Flix Snip has partnered with Russia’s Rostelecom to launch the premium, curated short form content service in the country.

The announcement was made today by Flix Snip founder and CEO Sebastien Perioche.

Flix Snip features short format entertainment content, 20 minutes or less, in all genres, including drama, animation, children’s, family, comedy, science fiction and horror. Flix Snip on Rostelecom will feature 200 short form movies at launch with 20 new titles, films and series, to be added monthly. Curated from distributors and filmmakers around the globe, content will be localised and dubbed in Russian language.

“We’re delighted to expand Flix Snip to Russia on Rostelecom. Our service provides engaging short form filmed content, perfect for Russian consumers as their viewing habits evolve and as they are migrating to multiple devices and multiple screens for shorter form entertainment,” comments Perioche.

“Flix Snip will definitely add significant value to Rostelecom’s current offerings, by providing premium content in a wide variety of genres, with something for all ages and the entire family to enjoy during the short breaks in their lives.”

Flix Snip’s launch on Rostelecom is the first of several launches in the territory, with more partners to be announced soon.

Netflix pulls Apple iTunes billing for new subscribers

By Robert Briel

Netflix is no longer allowing new customers to subscribe via iTunes using in-app purchase on their iPhone or iPad in order to avoid paying a 30% commission to Apple.

Apple takes 30% of revenue for third-party app sales through its iTunes App Store. For subscription services, the cut drops to 15% on renewals after the first year.

The measure only applies to new subscribers to Netflix, or when people temporarily stop their subscription and resume their subscription. Existing members can continue to use iTunes for renewal payments.

The Netflix app will continue ue two be available on the iTunes Store.

Last May, Netflix made the same move with Alphabet’s Google Play Store for subscribers using Android devices.

Horizon Go on Android TV in Slovakia

By Chris Dziadul

UPC Broadband Slovakia has made Horizon Go available to its subscribers on Android TV.

As they result, they can now watch almost 150 TV channels, of which 60 are in HD, as well as use 7-Day Replay TV and the online MyPrime video library either directly through a TV with a built-in Android operating system or via a connected multimedia device, the Android TV box.

All customers of UPC digital TV get Horizon Go mobile TV at no additional cost within their pre-paid package.

Commenting on the development, Clemens Kruse, CCO, UPC Broadband Slovakia, said: “UPC, as one of the leading providers of innovative digital TV, internet and telephone services in Slovakia, registers a constantly growing interest of customers in applications such as Android TV. With this innovation, we respond to the real needs of our customers and continue to make watching TV even more enjoyable and easier for them. Applications make it easy to use mobile TV services such as Horizon Go, which offers a number of innovative and interactive services, such as the 7-Day Replay TV or video library with over 2,000 movie and series titles”.

TV broadcasting via 5G trial launches in Germany

By JΓΆrn Krieger

A transmitter from German technology company Rohde & Schwarz successfully went into operation at the Wendelstein transmitter site of Bavarian public broadcaster BR on December 4, 2018 as part of the 5G Today research project.

In addition, fellow project partner Kathrein completed an antenna test operation at BR’s transmitter site in Ismaning near Munich.

The introduction of 5G will open up a worldwide market with millions of smartphones and tablets acting as potential TV receivers able to combine live TV, catch-up and on-demand services, social networks and other media application, according to the project partners.

“With 5G Broadcast, a new, very efficient distribution method is currently being created to provide stationary and, above all, mobile users with high-quality linear and hybrid channels and services,” said Helwin Lesch, head of BR’s distribution and controlling department. “BR is particularly interested in the possibility of broadcasting radio and TV channels via 5G. The 5G-HTHP technology allows widescale distribution of content in the existing broadcast frequency range. No additional frequency spectrum is required for this.”

LTE Broadcast, also known as FeMBMS (Further evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service), was specified in 3GPP Release 14 in June 2017. It defines new options for broadcasting to LTE-enabled mobile user equipment such as smartphones and tablets. For the first time, the upgraded standard allows high-power high-tower (HPHT) applications in downlink only mode while utilising the full signal bandwidth for multicast/broadcast applications. Moreover, 3GPP Release 14 defines an extended cyclic prefix (guard interval) and modes to enable operation without SIM cards, which is necessary for broadcast applications.

The R&S THU9evo high-power transmitter with a transmission power of 5 kW (100 kW ERP) and the specially developed antenna from German technology company Kathrein are part of the LTE Broadcast test transmission. The Rohde & Schwarz FeMBMS transmission addresses broadcast applications for video and IP data in HPHT topologies with bandwidths of 5 MHz and 10 MHz. The transmitter receives the reference and configuration data via 3GPP-conform protocols from an LTE EPC (Evolved Packet Core). The research project uses the Rohde & Schwarz broadcast service and control centre R&S BSCC that contains all necessary EPC functions. The broadcast services are provided by BR and transferred to the R&S BSCC via an R&S AVHE100 headend.

The transmitters in Ismaning and on the Wendelstein mountain form a Single Frequency Network (SFN), which is to enable mobile and portable reception in the greater Munich area as well as on the main traffic routes between Munich and Salzburg. Kathrein developed a special antenna for the transmission of diversity signals for the transmitter station in Ismaning. 12 UHF antenna fields were installed at a height of 200 meters. The project also included the installation of a 370-metre long, arm-thick HF transmission cable. Another Rohde & Schwarz high-power transmitter with 7 kW output power for 100 kW ERP is to be connected to the antenna at the end of January 2019. The test broadcasting network will then be prepared for the measurements.

The 5G field trial is established in Germany as part of the Bavarian research project 5G Today. The project is funded by the Bavarian Research Foundation. Under the leadership of the Institute for Broadcast Technology (IRT), project partners Kathrein and Rohde & Schwarz are investigating large-scale TV broadcasts in the FeMBMS mode over 5G broadcast networks. The project is supported by Telefónica Germany and ARD’s Bavarian affiliate BR, who is providing two HPHT sites near Munich for this field trial.

Freeview launches new mobile app

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

Freeview today announced 22nd January 2019 as the launch date of its new mobile app.

The announcement was made at the platform’s annual Outside the Box industry event at BAFTA.

The app, an example of much discussed PSB and industry collaboration, provides viewers with a one-stop-shop for the country’s most watched TV shows. Through the iOS app viewers will be able to stream live channels from BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and access on-demand content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, and UKTV Play. Further catch up players and live streams will be added in due course. As with all Freeview products, the app is completely free to use with no download fee and no subscription. An Android version will launch in early 2019.

The announcement marks a significant step for the UK’s largest TV platform. For the first time viewers will be able to watch live Freeview programming without having to access an aerial allowing the platform to deliver against the different ways consumers now want to access content. It’s hoped the app will follow in the success of Freeview in the home, to become the bedrock of Britain’s TV viewing on the go.

The feature-rich app will allow viewers to search through both live and on demand content from the supported players helping them find their favourite shows. The Recommendations feature will also help viewers discover new favourites across the suite of supported on demand players.

The new service has only been made possible through the collaboration between Digital UK and Freeview’s common shareholders, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva, who led the software build. Digital UK, which leads on the product specification and technical development worked hand in hand with Freeview on the app.

Jonathan Thompson, CEO, Digital UK said, “In an increasingly fragmented media landscape, the new Freeview mobile app is an excellent example of broadcaster and industry collaboration in action. Today’s viewers value having access to their favourite shows when and where they want and the new app provides the aggregated experience that consumers increasingly expect from a TV provider. We’re putting the best of free-to-air content – public service and commercial – in to one place on mobile just as we have on TV, ensuring that great free tv is available to everyone wherever they are”.

Arqiva acted as technology partner to DUK by developing both the app and integrating it with the Content Providers’ metadata feeds.

Research: up to 90% of 5G traffic could be mobile video

By Broadband TV News Correspondent

The Mobile Video Industry Council expects that up to 90% of 5G traffic could be mobile video.

This projection is based on current trends and the upward trajectory of mobile video traffic, which has grown more than 50% year-on-year.

The Council meeting at their inaugural gathering discussed recent trends in mobile video traffic and content, and operator concerns over RAN capacity, service differentiation and Quality of Experience.

Growth in volumes of video traffic was, unsurprisingly, a major discussion point. What is surprising is the reason for this growth. For most operators, growth in mobile video from 2010 to 2015 came as a result of increased video watch times. But, since 2015, growth in mobile video has come significantly as a result of a move to higher bandwidth HD content, rather than greater watch time only. This has also meant higher levels of obfuscated encryption protocols such as QUIC (Google) and 0-RTT (Facebook and Instagram) flooding the network impeding operators’ ability to deliver a consistent QoE. The Council, including Tier 1 mobile operators Deutsche Telekom, EE, KPN, MTS, Orange, Telefonica, Telus and Vodafone, in fact debated the conflicting components of QoE i.e. Quality of Delivery (reduced buffering) versus Quality of Picture (resolution) and the implications.

A special OTT content providers’ session with Hulu and BT Sport shed light on the problems of shoe-horning TV content into mobile and the launching of new companies developing new video content “made for mobile”. The Council also highlighted the stress placed on networks by live events, especially sporting occasions, such as Russia 2018. Here data consumption during a match was found to be double the data consumed during the “busy hour” for the remainder of the year.

John Giere, President and CEO of Openwave Mobility said: “When 4G was launched, it was all about mobility and connectivity. 4G provided the impetus for companies like Uber, Waze and Spotify. 5G will have far more data intensive services that operators may struggle to grapple with. For example, Augmented Reality can be 33x more data intensive than 480p video, and once 5G comes to the fore, it is expected that OTT services will have more subscribers than pay TV customers.”

Openwave Mobility launched the Council for mobile operators to determine strategies to manage video on 4G and 5G networks. Industry analysts from ABI Research, Analysis Mason and Strategy Analytics held interactive roundtables on 5G, NFV and the RAN.