There are plenty of ways to get video content on your smartphone, but each user having a dedicated connection to a server somewhere quickly adds up to a ton of bandwidth; it works, but it’s not very efficient. That’s why there’s so much interest in broadcast services, which would send out one common signal to all mobile devices, just as TV or radio works now. Other countries have had success with broadcast TV services for smartphones, but we’ve yet to see such tech catch on in the US. That all looks like it’s changing, upon the release of a phone supporting Dyle TV, as well as the news of Samsung successfully testing its own broadcast service over LTE.
MetroPCS just announced that it’s getting the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G. Normally, we wouldn’t get too excited about a lower-end model like this, except for its Dyle TV support. Dyle-compatible phones can retrieve television broadcasts sent out by the major networks, broadcasting with Dyle’s technology. It’s not in all markets, but if you’re in an area with reception, you stand to be able to receive stations like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Not only does it not use any cellular data, but for now, the service is free to access (though that may change in the future).
One thing to keep in mind with a system like Dyle’s is the limitation of broadcast range. I live in an area right between two major markets, both with Dyle-compatible stations, but according to the company’s online tool, there’s a huge dead zone between the two which surrounds me. I can get HDTV broadcasts from both cities just fine, but that’s with the use of a high-gain antenna; with a smartphone and its tiny antenna, effective broadcast range is substantially reduced.
Samsung’s also looking into a different direction to take for mobile broadcasts, leveraging existing LTE networks. Such “evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service” transmissions can reach multiple users at once, making more efficient use of available spectrum than requiring separate bandwidth for each. For now, Samsung sounds more focused on the tech behind it than signing deals with content providers, so it may be some time before we see it commercially available.