Telstra has turned on LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) technology nationally in its mobile network, with customers using Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices now being offered HD streaming using the AFL Live Official app.

Outgoing Telstra Group MD of Networks Mike Wright said the move, which followed extensive testing, means the telco is the only operator in Australia and among the first globally to roll out LTE-B across its mobile network.

“With the success of our AFL, NRL and Netball apps, we are now streaming live sports content to a massive base of around 1.2 million devices and sports fans consume 37 million minutes of live content over our apps on any given weekend,” said Wright. “This season we’ve seen an overall 58 per cent increase in customers streaming games. In some instances, more than twice the number of customers have streamed, compared to the same clash last year.”

Wright referred to “recent major sporting events around the world” which he said had shown that meeting the huge peaks in demand during live sporting events requires extensive end-to-end network design, as well as careful network management and strategic investments.

“We have invested in network capacity and continue to optimise our network to meet the demand for video sporting content for subscribers of the AFL, NRL and Netball Live Passes,” he continued. “Last year we announced 1.5 million subscribers and this year we are on track to see a significant increase. Most recently, we have integrated LTE-B technology into the AFL Live Official app, which is delivering better quality video and audio experience for broadcast content, even in high traffic areas.”

“With more and more people tuning into games live and unmetered in more places, Telstra’s sporting apps are now becoming some of the world’s leading examples of real time sports consumption. The popularity of these apps make them a prime use case for LTE-B.

Wright said one of the biggest challenges for mobile network operators centred on managing the ever growing demand for data and video.

“LTE-B is key part of the solution – not only does it improve network efficiency, but more importantly improves the customer experience by delivering an enhanced streaming experience,” he said.

LTE-B technology is currently exclusive to the AFL Live Official app on Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices, with more devices and applications to be added over the coming months.