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By Mae Kowalke
One of the challenges faced by mobile network service providers deploying 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is using it to deliver popular multimedia content to a mass audience in the most efficient and effective manner. In the past, operators had two options: unicast or broadcast.
For those unfamiliar with the terms, below is a brief description of each:
- Unicast — the sending content to a single network destination, with a unique address. It is a one-to-one method of distribution. Traditionally, unicast has been when each individual recipient wanted or needed different content.
- Broadcast — as the name implies, is sending the same content to all possible destinations, e.g., it is a one-to-many or one-to-all method of distribution. The obvious downside of broadcast is that everyone receives identical content.
Recently, a new technology call evolved multimedia broadcast multicast service (eMBMS) entered the scene. It makes possible the efficient broadcasting of content only to interested recipients. An added attraction is that eMBMS is highly scalable. It uses only a fraction of the capacity compared with unicast. This gives operators the best of both worlds: the flexibility of unicast and the efficiency of broadcast.