July 22, 2014

BBC plans to live stream the Commonwealth Games over 4G

4G games

Commonwealth Games to be streamed live over EE’s 4G Mobile Network, well sort of.

The BBC plans to broadcast the Commonwealth Games live over 4G. The media giant will use EE’s mobile network to allow people to view the Commonwealth Games on mobile devices.

That might not sound surprising, after all the BBC’s iPlayer app already works over 4G and that was always likely to include live Commonwealth Games content, but that sends content to each user individually, which can cause buffering or lower image quality as it puts strain on bandwidth.

For this new initiative, the BBC is trialling a method where it will send a live feed across its entire network, which users can tune into or not and the number of users watching it makes no difference to the level of strain put on the bandwidth, so it should be more reliable overall.

You can think of it as being much the same way television works. When you pick a channel you don’t have to wait for it to load, you’re just tuning in to a signal that’s already there and it makes no difference whether a thousand or a million people watch it.

The BBC has other plans too. It’s going to trial ultra-HD broadcasts for the benefit, presumably, of the handful of people that have 4K televisions. It’s also going to try out live virtual reality broadcasts, augmented video graphics on iPlayer and a Venue Explorer, which allows tablet users to explore event venues during the broadcast.

The bad news is that because they’re simply trials most of these Commonwealth Games initiatives will only be accessible on demo devices at the Glasgow Science Centre’s Clyde Suite, from 10am to 5pm between 24th July and 3rd August. But if you happen to be in the area it could be well worth dropping in and if the trial goes well there’s a good chance we’ll see more widespread availability of these services in the future.

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