Shedding some light on its future plans involving the distribution of live video over its mobile network, Verizon Wireless plans to “go commercial” with an LTE multicast product as early as 2015, company CFO Fran Shammo said on the company’s second quarter earnings call on Tuesday.
“The network will be ready by the end of the third quarter to actually launch multicast,” he said. “We won’t go commercial with that until 2015, but the network will be ready.”
From there, it will be a matter of getting handsets out that can use the technology. Verizon expects to start to embed chips with those capabilities into handsets later this year, Shammo said.
LTE Multicast is a technique that delivers live TV signals wirelessly to mobile devices without gobbling up all of the cell site’s bandwidth. Instead of delivering unicast streams to each person viewing the video, Verizon’s multicast approach will rely on a dedicated portion of LTE spectrum to place the live event that can be seen by multiple devices that are connected to the cell site. Verizon demonstrated LTE Multicast in January in New York in the week leading up to the Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.
Verizon also views LTE Multicast as a technology that enable the delivery of live events to consumers without the need for a separate pay-TV service.
Citing agreements with the NFL and IndyCar, Shammo said Verizon “will continue to search for…opportunities that make content available to our wireless customers without a linear TV or satellite TV subscription.”
Shammo also expressed that such flexibility will be needed amid a budding cord-cutting trend that sees consumers use the Internet or wireless to access their content. Still, such deals require a new type of distribution rights to pull off, though Verizon doesn’t think it will need to own the content to secure them.
“We continue to position ourselves, but we believe we do not need to own content to be successful in this ecosystem, but we just need to get the rights for that content,” he said. “We understand that content providers want to be paid for those rights."