Free-to-air mobile TV as a network offload strategy for mobile operators
Date: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 17:53 Source: Telegent Systems PR department
Recently Swisscom made the decision to drop its DVB-H mobile TV service, citing a lack of compatible handsets as the reason behind its lack of success. Swisscom has opted to provide a subscription service, broadcast over high speed 3G networks opening up the service to smartphone and laptop users. However, the free-to-air mobile TV model has emerged globally as a compelling way to drive mobile TV forward. This approach also provides operators with an offload strategy to reduce the impact of data traffic on their networks
With consumer demand ramping for data-intensive services such as mobile video and applications, European operators are faced with the challenge of delivering services that provide differentiation in the marketplace while managing a growing burden on 3G networks. Video over 3G – whether YouTube videos, catch-up TV available through mobile apps or live simulcast – has the potential to serve as a strategy for attracting new subscribers or catering to an existing subscriber base. However, as demand for these services increases, operators are faced with a requirement to either invest in infrastructure capable of supporting rapidly growing data traffic or find a way to offload the data burden on the network.
The mobile TV strategy in Europe in 2008 was defined around the broadcast standard DVB-H as the preferred technology for mobile broadcasting and built on a subscription fee based business model. To some degree, this model has hampered widespread adoption in the region, as it requires a significant capital investment in infrastructure and content licensing by operators and meaningful consumer demand for mobile TV on a subscription basis has failed to materialize. Streamed TV services are now being explored as an alternative delivery vehicle, but are fuelling similar infrastructure requirement concerns as demand for mobile video grows.
Amidst this backdrop, a free-to-air broadcast mobile TV business model begins to deliver a business case for operators. Free-to-air broadcast mobile TV leverages an existing free-to-air terrestrial standard, delivering the consumer with the same content that they are accustomed to viewing on their conventional TV sets and without requiring investment by operators in spectrum, towers, content or standards. This is the view of Diana Jovin, vice president of corporate marketing and business development at Telegent Systems. Jovin believes free-to-air broadcast mobile TV addresses user interest in live TV programming – in particular time-sensitive content such as news, sports and participation TV programmes – without placing any incremental burden on the operator network. This enables operators to implement a strategy to attract and retain subscribers with a live TV service offering, without incurring the high investment hurdles of dedicated mobile broadcast networks or the network bandwidth issues of a 3G-based streaming model.
Globally, this approach to mobile TV has already gained significant momentum. Free-to-air mobile TV has been rapidly gaining acceptance among consumers in both emerging and developed markets, and across both analogue and digital standards. For 2009, analyst house Forward Concepts estimated that free-to-air mobile TV accounted for more than 85% of all broadcast TV handsets shipped.