CES: Verizon's McAdam Sees Broadcast Video over LTE in 2014

Telco Announces $10 Million 'Powerful Answers Award' Competition
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Las Vegas -- Verizon Communications chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said the company is working on a technology to broadcast live TV over Verizon Wireless’ 4G Long Term Evolution network -- a development he hopes to see as early as next year.

McAdam discussed the project in a keynote address here at the 2013 International CES that was devoid of major product announcements or demonstrations.

Broadcasting live video over LTE, the way television signals are delivered today, rather than in a unicast fashion where each individual receiver has a separate session could let the wireless carrier deliver Super Bowl-scale audiences, according to McAdam.

“Our goal is to break down the barriers between home and mobile once and for all, and come up with video services that move seamlessly across any network and any device,” McAdam said in a keynote address here at the 2013 International CES.

Verizon Wireless launched 4G LTE at the 2011 CES, when the average speed of wireless networks was less than 1 Megabit per second, McAdam noted. Now the carrier’s LTE network covers 273 million points of presence, or almost 89% of the U.S. population, with speeds now in the 10 to 12 Mbps range.

McAdam didn't bring it up, but Verizon Wireless has marketing and joint development partnerships with four MSOs -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks -- under which the companies are collaborating on applications that span wireline and wireless networks. The cable operators sold a chunk of Advanced Wireless Services spectrum to the carrier in a deal announced in December 2011.

Elsewhere on the video front, McAdam referred briefly to the Verizon FiOS Media Server, on display here at CES, which is designed to deliver video to any device in the home. The VMS1100 Media Server, developed with Motorola Mobility, has 1 Terabyte of storage, can stream recorded programs to up to five TVs and deliver video to devices including iPads, Xbox consoles and connected TVs.

In addition, McAdam said the telco has developed a channel store for FiOS TV that lets customers “search for content anywhere in the world -- kind of a jukebox for TV.”

McAdam brought out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for a chat that touched on Verizon Wireless’ NFL Mobile service. The league is looking for ways to use technology to enhance the fan experience, Goodell said; for example the NFL Mobile “Under the Hood” feature lets Verizon customers see what the officials are seeing when they’re reviewing a play.

“We have found that every time we give the fan the opportunity to engage with football, they want more,” Goodell said.

Verizon Wireless offers the $5 monthly NFL Mobile service, which includes access to Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games mobile, while the carrier shut down its dedicated video service last month. Verizon Wireless’ exclusive mobile TV rights are part of a $720 million, four-year sponsorship pact that kicked off with the 2010-11 season.

McAdam also interviewed on stage Ford Motor Co. chief technology officer Paul Mascarenas, who spoke about the car maker’s new developer program for its Sync App Link for smartphones and the future of the “connected car.”

At the close of his address, McAdam announced Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award, which will grant a total of $10 million in prizes with top awards of $1 million to individuals or companies that submit network-based technology concepts that address issues in the fields of healthcare, education and sustainability.

Submissions will be judged by a panel of Verizon executives, members of academia, the media and the venture capital community. McAdam said Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro will be a member of the advisory board for the award, and the winners of the award are slated to be announced at the 2014 CES.

“I really believe we are at a tipping point where we can use these technologies to solve our biggest problems,” McAdam said.