For the moment, LTE-B will be available only to the AFL Live Official app on Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices, presumably because the business end of the AFL season is approaching.
Mike Wright, the telco's group managing director of Networks, said the switch-on, after extensive testing meant Telstra was only Australian operator, and one of the first globally, to deploy LTE-B.
“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 who consume 37 million minutes of live content over our apps on any given weekend," said Wright.
An LTE-B stream (left) and an unicast one.
In a not too subtle dig at rival Optus, Wright said that recent major sporting events had shown that meeting the peak demand for big events took "extensive end-to-end network design combined with careful network management and strategic investments".
Optus obtained rights to stream all 64 games of the World Cup but a few days into the tournament, the telco has to ask public broadcaster SBS to simulcast games, due to technical difficulties.
The simulcast was then extended to all group games and Optus had to offer refunds to all those who paid the $15 monthly fee it had charged for its coverage.
Later, Optus had to ask SBS to simulcast all the remaining knockout games as well. According to some sources, the company paid about $9 million for the World Cup rights.
Wright said Telstra had invested in network capacity and continued to optimise its network "to meet the demand for video sporting content for subscribers of the AFL, NRL and Netball Live Passes".
"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."
An AFL game on the live app utilising LTE-B (left) side by side with the normal unicast stream.
Telstra has had its network issues too, with its mobile network suffering a number of outages this year.
The telco said in a statement that during a live demonstration in Sydney on Thursday, more than 100 Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices were on display showing simultaneous High Definition content from the AFL Live Official app using LTE-B.
Simultaneously, a second batch of devices delivered the content by conventional unicast to show how normal networks can be saturated with demand leading to lower quality and stalling of content.
Photos: courtesy Telstra