The seamless path
The future’s bright, the future’s hybrid – mobile TV must embrace a number of technologies to both deliver the user experience required and drive sustainable adoption over the long term. There won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ solution, says Ray Derenzo of MobiTV.
The mobile industry of late has witnessed much heated debate and excited discussion around the issue of delivery technologies for mobile TV.
As demonstrated at the recent industry showpiece 3GSM, mobile TV has clearly caught the imagination of the industry with seemingly everyone connected to mobile having a view on the drivers for consumer adoption of mobile television – and its potential impact on the holy grail of increased ARPU.
The addressable market for mobile television is ever increasing as networks and devices are becoming more capable and compelling video content more available. However, if TV is to be the killer application it’s predicated to be, identifying and addressing the buttons that will unlock consumer demand is the challenge facing us all.
Undeniably, delivery technologies, be they network based or broadcast, are critical to the future of mobile TV. Capacity will become an issue as consumer demand begins to outstrip wireless network capacity. Yet this will not just represent a capacity imbalance issue. Consumer preferences for mobile television will evolve with linear and ondemand programming that is personalised, interactive, location aware and time independent.
How to get there from here
The challenge, therefore, will not be to simply add more network capacity but to blend the appropriate technologies to match the consumer requirements.
However, although critical to the future growth potential of the category, discussions over delivery technologies are often inhibiting debate on an equally fundamental consideration – and one that will truly set the foundations for a successful future for the application. That fundamental issue concerns content and matching the right content to the right demographic – and offering access through an interface that is seamless, intuitive and which lowers consumer barriers to entry. It’s a cliché, but content is king.
The industry must balance its short-term preoccupations on delivery technologies that have the potential to provide a better range of services at some yet to be determined point in time, with a focus on content and delivery application.
Getting the product right in terms of content will best help the category develop over time as it serves to build a solid foundation on which future services can go.
We at MobiTV believe in evolution as the best means of driving the category sustainable over the long term. And in thinking in terms of content and user experience first, delivery platform second, we have developed a multi facetted hybrid content delivery model. However, unlike traditional wireless technologies that supposedly offer a ‘seamless’ transition, for example GPRS and 3G, the multiplatform delivery model truly provides a flexible and scalable service which does not impact upon the end user, aside from enriching the viewing and interactive experience.
Our hybrid approach has been developed in light of the inescapable fact is the 3G networks will not be capable of handling the future demands made of it by mobile TV in the longer term. Alternative broadcast networks will be required. However, in an environment where by uni/multicast technologies are being pitted against DAB / DVB-H in a standards battle, the key lies in evolving the two together and allowing them to co-exist – harnessing their respective benefits, but ensuring a seamless experience to the consumer.
Our experience through over 20 plus international MNO deployments has shown that consumers are interested in a range of content genres, types and packages. The multi-platform strategy is the only way to delivery true flexibility of service. It is also the only way to satisfy viewer requirements and to allow for tailored services that differentiate network operators and broadcasters alike – from pure play live TV services, to radio, video on demand, Wi-Fi and a plethora of interactive services.
Mix ‘n’ match
Moreover, a hybrid approach serves to maintain and build upon the initial momentum created in mobile TV by unicast. Such evolution allows for the sustainable development of the category and allows for content to develop in line with technology – a key consideration for driving adoption over the long term. It also allows MNOs and broadcasters to learn more about (and therefore putting into practice) intelligence on viewer behaviours and content.
Put simply, the main focus for the industry, if the category is to reach its potential, should be on content and the user interface. Talking about DVB-H, DAB, TD-CDMA is a bit like asking a consumer “What’s in your 27in HDTV?” The answer is “I don’t know or care what’s in my TV, I care what is on my TV.”
Content is the true driver of adoption. The role of the industry is to scale and adapt the technologies available to us to encourage adoption now.
Ray Derenzo is Vice President, Business Development EMEA, for MobiTV. He has also served as VP at the Vodafone group which developed and deployed the enabling technology behind Vodafone Live!