The expanding range of media-centric smartphones, tablets and netbooks
has led to an explosion in mobile data volumes and the arrival of the
long anticipated capacity crunch. It is now rapidly becoming clear that
LTE alone will not resolve this challenge forcing operators to find a
new solution. As a result a growing number are turning to the mobile
broadcast standard IMB (Integrated Mobile Broadcast) as a means of
offloading their busy networks and offering new revenue generating
As media-centric mobile devices and USB dongles have become more
prevalent, more and more people are streaming video over mobile networks
leading to rocketing data volumes. According to Cisco, by 2014 3.6
million terabytes of mobile data will be used each month globally, of
which mobile video will account for 66%.
The growth in mobile data consumption has seen networks struggle to meet
demand which in turn negatively impacts the consumer experience. As a
result, operators are eager to find a technology that is capable of
offloading bandwidth hungry applications from their data networks. At
the same time they are also keen to identify opportunities to increase
ARPU through new and innovative services.
As a result, mobile operators are turning their attention to mobile
broadcast as a means of simply and cost effectively offloading large
sums of traffic. Leading the way is IMB which has attracted both
widespread operator support and an extensive vendor ecosystem. The
standard was defined in Release 8 of 3GPP and endorsed by the GSMA in
September 2009 as the favoured method of mobile broadcast. It became
just one of five radio technologies to receive an official endorsement
from the GSMA as fit for purpose and effective for the mobile industry.
Others include HSPA and WCDMA.
IMB allows broadcast services to be implemented in the unpaired TDD
bands of spectrum that are owned but currently unused by many operators
in the region as part of their 3G licenses – in fact over 150 operators
in 60 countries worldwide have such spectrum available, covering in
excess of half a billion subscribers.
In the same way that HSPA has been proven to deliver mobile broadband
traffic in a more efficient way, IMB will give the GSMA community the
opportunity to again breathe new life into their existing 3G networks,
maximise the value of their spectrum licenses and deliver mobile
broadcast services efficiently. The unused TDD bands support multiple
5MHz carriers, of which each may be dedicated solely to the delivery of
broadcast services. It is expected that IMB will support up to 30
broadcast channels in 10 MHZ at 300 kbps. By taking advantage of TDD
spectrum that presently lies unused, IMB has the power to deliver the
most popular content while providing capacity relief to the crowded FDD
channels. Where other mobile broadcast technologies may have been met
with initial optimism but fizzled out, IMB continues to gain support
throughout the mobile ecosystem and has the potential to bring mobile
broadcast into the mainstream.