Verizon to use broadcasting to deliver live video over LTE

At the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco, Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone revealed that the Tier 1 carrier plans to devote part of its long-term evolution (LTE) network to broadcasting live video as a way to handle network traffic jams. As previously reported, Verizon is in the process of launching its LTE 4G network in 38 cities by the end of 2010, and across its entire 3G footprint by the end of 2013.

The advent of 3G networks has enabled more video on mobile devices, but the resulting explosion in video traffic over carrier networks has led to capacity issues. Verizon Wireless is just one of the carriers attempting to come up with solutions in concert with their infrastructure providers. Within this context, Melone said that Verizon “had to dedicate a portion of (its) spectrum.” The broadcast element of the 4G network will “more efficiently deal with the live content,” he added.

With the demise of Qualcomm’s FLO TV, whose content Verizon Wireless buys wholesale and resells to consumers, that broadcast spectrum is up for sale. Melone said that Verizon Wireless is not interested in purchasing that spectrum. He did not mention the fact that U.S. broadcasters have begun the launch mobile DTV streams from local stations throughout the United States.

Verizon Wireless’ ambitious plan to roll out its LTE service in 38 cities doesn’t mean the transition will be as fast as it sounds, Melone said. In fact, its current 3G network, based on CDMA networks (using CDMA-1x and EvDO technology), will predominate for some time to come. Verizon doesn’t plan to offer an LTE-only handset until 2012 or 2013. Melone said that the CDMA network could stay in place for the next decade, but EvDO, which is dedicated to data, is more likely to disappear first. Verizon is currently building the large macro cells that will cover large swathes of territory with LTE, with smaller cell base stations (femtocells and picocells) coming later.