Verizon: LTE Broadcast Could Power VOD

Verizon details in a patent published on Tuesday how it could use LTE broadcast (eMBMS) technology to not only broadcast live programming, but offer subscribers video-on-demand content from major programmers.

“Content provider may include free television broadcast providers (e.g., broadcast providers, such as NBC, CBS, ABC, and/or Fox) and for-pay television broadcast providers (e.g., TNT, ESPN, HBO, Cinemax, CNN, etc.) that permit content to be streamed and/or downloaded. Content provide may also include on-demand content providers (e.g., video on demand (VOD) providers, pay per view (PPV) providers, etc.),” Verizon states in the patent.

Verizon explains how it could deliver the first portion of an on-demand program via a unicast stream while buffering in local memory “a second portion of the selected media from the multicast stream.”

Verizon manager of system architecture software Jian Huang is named as lead inventor on the patent, titled, “Efficient on-deand streaming using multicast.”

Abstract: A user device provides, to a content delivery system, a content request for selected media and receives, in response to the content request, a unicast link for receiving the selected media via a unicast stream and a multicast link for receiving the selected media via a multicast stream. The user device presents a first portion of the selected media via the unicast stream and buffers, in a local memory, a second portion of the selected media from the multicast stream. The second portion is later in linear sequence of the selected media than the first portion. The user device discontinues presenting the first portion of the selected media when the first portion would overlap the second portion and present the second portion of the selected media from the memory.

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Patent

Claims: 

1. A method, comprising: receiving, at a content delivery system and from a user device, a content request for selected media; determining, by the content delivery system, that the selected media is in an on-going multicast stream; sending, by the content delivery system and to the user device, a unicast link for receiving the selected media via a unicast stream and a multicast link for receiving the selected media via a multicast stream, when the selected media is in the on-going multicast stream; presenting, by the user device, a first portion of the selected media via the unicast stream; buffering, by the user device and in a local memory, a second portion of the selected media from the multicast stream, wherein the second portion is later in a linear sequence of the selected media than the first portion; discontinuing presenting, by the user device, the first portion of the selected media when the first portion would overlap the second portion; presenting, by the user device, the second portion of the selected media from the local memory; receiving, at the content delivery system, another content request for the selected media; determining, by the content delivery system, that the selected media is no longer in the on-going multicast stream; sending, to the user device, another unicast link, for receiving the selected media via another unicast stream, when the selected media is no longer in the on-going multicast stream and when a multicast channel is not available to support another multicast stream; and sending, to the user device, another multicast link, for receiving the selected media via a multicast stream, when the selected media is no longer in the on-going multicast stream and when another multicast channel is available.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the multicast stream is in progress before receiving the content request.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising: receiving, by the user device, a catalog of available media; providing, by the user device, an indication of the selected media from the catalog; and receiving, by the user device, a server link for providing the content request.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the unicast stream and the multicast stream include the selected media in a format configured for presentation on a platform of the user device.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising: determining, by the user device, that a network connection between the user device and the content delivery system has sufficient bandwidth to support buffering the second portion simultaneously with receiving the first portion.

6. The method of claim 5, further comprising: determining, by the user device and before beginning the buffering, that the user device has sufficient memory to support buffering the second portion through the end of the multicast stream.

7. The method of claim 5, further comprising: overwriting, by the user device, the earliest segments in the linear sequence of the second portion when the user device does not have sufficient memory to support buffering the second portion through the end of the multicast stream.

8. The method of claim 1, further comprising: receiving, by the user device, a license file, wherein the license file includes information to enable the user device to decrypt an encrypted version of the selected media from the unicast stream or the multicast stream.

9. A method, comprising: receiving, by a content delivery system and from a user device, a content request for particular video-on-demand (VOD) content; determining, by the content delivery system, if the particular VOD content is currently being provided via an multicast stream; when the particular VOD content is currently being provided via the multicast stream, sending, by the content delivery system and to the user device, a unicast link that provides access to a unicast stream of the particular VOD content from a beginning of the particular VOD content and a multicast link that provides access to the multicast stream of the particular VOD content; when the particular VOD content is not currently being provided via the multicast stream and when a multicast channel is not available to use for the particular VOD content, sending, by the content delivery system and to the user device, the unicast link; and when the particular VOD content is not currently being provided via the multicast stream and when a multicast channel is available to use for the particular VOD content, sending, by the content delivery system and to the user device, another multicast link that provides access to another multicast stream of the particular VOD content from the beginning of the particular VOD content.

10. The method of claim 9, further comprising: receiving, by an application server, a selection of the particular VOD content; and sending, by the application server, a uniform resource locator (URL) for the user device to use for the content request.

11. The method of claim 9, further comprising: creating the other multicast link in response to the content request, when the particular VOD content is not currently being provided via the multicast stream and when a multicast channel is available to use for the particular VOD content.

12. The method of claim 9, further comprising: streaming simultaneously, by the content delivery system, the particular VOD content to the user device via the multicast stream and via the unicast stream, when the particular VOD content is currently being provided via the multicast stream.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the unicast stream and the multicast stream include the particular VOD content in a format configured for presentation on a platform of the user device.

14. The method of claim 9, further comprising, when the particular VOD content is currently being provided via the multicast stream: presenting, by the user device, a first portion of the particular VOD content via the unicast stream; buffering, by the user device and in a local memory, a second portion of the particular VOD content from the multicast stream; discontinuing presenting, by the user device, the first portion of the particular VOD content when the first portion would overlap the second portion; and presenting, by the user device, the second portion of the particular VOD content from the local memory.

15. The method of claim 9, further comprising: sending, to the user device, a license file that includes information to enable the user device to decrypt an encrypted version of the particular VOD content from the unicast stream, the multicast stream, or the other multicast stream.

16. A network device, comprising: a memory for storing media segments and instructions to be executed by one or more processors; and the one or more processors configured to execute the instructions to: receive, from a user device, a content request for particular video-on-demand (VOD) content; determine, if the particular VOD content is currently being provided via an multicast stream; when the particular VOD content is currently being provided via the multicast stream, send, to the user device, a unicast link that provides access to a unicast stream of the particular VOD content from a beginning of the particular VOD content and a multicast link that provides access to the multicast stream of the particular VOD content; when the particular VOD content is not currently being provided via the multicast stream and when a multicast channel is not available to use for the particular VOD content, send, to the user device, the unicast link; and when the particular VOD content is not currently being provided via the multicast stream and when a multicast channel is available to use for the particular VOD content, send, to the user device, another multicast link that provides access to another multicast stream of the particular VOD content from the beginning of the particular VOD content.

17. The network device of claim 16, the one or more processors being further configured to execute the instructions to: create the other multicast link in response to the content request, when the particular VOD content is not currently being provided via the multicast stream and when a multicast channel is available to use for the particular VOD content.

18. The network device of claim 16, the one or more processors being further configured to execute the instructions to: receive, from another user device, another content request for the particular VOD content; and when the particular VOD content is currently being provided via the multicast stream, send, to the other user device, a different unicast link that provides access to a different unicast stream of the particular VOD content from the beginning of the particular VOD content and the multicast link that provides access to the multicast stream of the particular VOD content.

19. The network device of claim 16, the one or more processors being further configured to execute the instructions to: simultaneously stream the particular VOD content to the user device via the multicast stream and via the unicast stream, when the particular VOD content is currently being provided via the multicast stream.