Tag Archives: mobile operator

Broadcast or Unicast Mobile TV? Both

Mobile TV continue to expand in Asia, Europe and US. AT&T just launched a broadcast Mobile TV service, offering 10 channels for $15 a month. Verizon launched their service one year ago. In Italy UMTS mobile operator 3 (Hutch group) is the most successful commercial launch in Europe for Broadcast Mobile TV with 800.000 subscribers and an offer of 12 channels at 19 Euro per month. Japan is the world leader with 20 million mobile broadcast subscribers, followed by Korea with 8 million.

Broadcast Mobile TV technologies require an overlay network to the mobile cellular network, using a different spectrum to broadcast digital TV channels, and specific handsets equipped with “TV tuners”. This is a very effective way to reach a mass audience of mobile devices for a limited selection of a dozen of channels. (See video example of AT&T service on an LG Vu phone)

Mobile Operators are also offering Mobile TV in unicast using the 3G mobile network infrastructure and spectrum to deliver video through an unicast stream over IP. The most sophisticated services use a software Rich Media Client in the handset that enables a better user experience and more interactivity (see video example of Orange World Mobile TV)

Once of the advantages of unicast Mobile TV is that it enables an unlimited number of channels. Each user receives a dedicated stream delivering his video choice from an on-line catalog that includes Video On Demand, recorded TV shows, pre-recorded interactive channels or live channels.

In short Broadcast brings a few mass TV channels, and Unicast brings unlimited choice. Which option should mobile telcos choose? Unicast can complement a Broadcast Mobile TV service with a wider choice and VoD on top of the 10-12 channel package. So why not integrate both options in the same Service?

MSPs towards Mobile Connectivity Service Providers

Nokia N81 ovi

In the past, Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) have successfully managed to keep full control -and get a share of revenue- over the premium content delivered over their networks. MSPs were determined to retain customer ownership, and so MSPs created walled gardens under their control.

Thanks to that model, MSPs have been enjoying good revenues from premium content downloads -ringtones, ring-back tones, logos, games, songs or videos-, premium SMSs and premium rate voice services (80x numbers). To get these revenues, MSPs have not invested much in promotion, advertisement or improvement of the premium services. So far, MSPs owned the customer billing relationship, and simply taxed content providers to reach the mobile operators customers, leaving many times the promotion on the content provider side.

As mobile data bitrates increase with 3G (UMTS, HSDPA or EVDO), and as handsets become more intelligent – iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile or Symbian-, MSPs premium content model is under threat.

MSPs does not seem to realize that if they do not invest in improving and promoting their own value added content services, they will be bypassed by Content Providers, and will be relegated to Mobile Connectivity Service Providers (MCSPs), or in short dumb pipes.

Recent news about Ovi (Nokia’s content services venture) rolling our N-Gage games confirm the threat. iPhone will kill any music download service an MSPs could have, to be swapped by iTunes. Google already has applications like Gmail and Google Maps, that can be installed in most smartphones. Unlike with RIM, operators do not get any revenues from the Gmail in mobile phones. This will not improve with Android.

Data usage is the only revenue MCSPs will be able to retain, but with the move to data flat rates, MCSPs will not even benefit from the growth in these services.