Handheld future

With industry sources predicting that mobile TV could generate as much as US$11.7 billion in earnings by 2011, it is widely touted as the next big thing in the telco sector, and industry players are hoping to buy end-user interest. CommsMEA investigates.

  • E-Mail
By  Administrator Published  December 17, 2007

The mobile telecoms industry has witnessed many false dawns of the ever-elusive "killer application" and as voice revenues continue to fall, mobile TV is often viewed as the communication sector's biggest hope.

But many industry insiders think that if mobile TV is to be a success, it must offer end-users something more than just TV via mobile phones.

Entry into the content and applications space requires significant scale and market share - Hilal Halaoui, senior associate, Booz Allen Hamilton.

To this end, a recent report by Motorola's Bilal Saleh, director of applications and mobile TV services, identifies how industry players must tailor the interface and content to offer a bespoke service necessary to capture end-user imagination.

Entitled ‘Personalisation, Convenience and Originality: How Converged Video Can Switch Viewers on to Mobile TV', the report envisages that infrastructure interoperability and content management will advance in the following 18 months to open up the market still further.

"Content has long been touted as ‘king' in attracting viewers and improved compression technologies are making it easier to digitise and distribute entertainment for a high-quality mobile viewing experience," he says.

Furthermore, the intense competition among operators to secure exclusive rights to premium programming is also mirrored by content providers, who are eager to get in on the act, as the proliferation of delivery platforms lead to increasingly fragmented viewing audiences.

Saleh's report argues that as mobile TV takes shape in the telco industry, the issues of personalisation, user-friendliness and standardisation must be addressed before it becomes a ‘must have' product.

"Users will benefit from ‘time-shift' TV. So if a subscriber is watching a football match on their mobile device and has to enter a train station, transmission will be halted. But when they exit, the handset will offer the opportunity to recommence viewing. It will also provide a prompt to replay critical action that may have been missed," he says in the report.

The report also explains that intelligent technology can be used to record what content has been accessed in order to tailor services. Saleh predicts how handsets can offer a "context-aware" border, housing a menu with a list of related services.

"With football clips, this may include the option to view the season's goals, or to buy screen savers or ring-tones - all delivered seamlessly and charged to subscribers' accounts," says Saleh.

"The interface will seamlessly aggregate these feeds from the web and both cellular and broadcast TV systems," he adds.

With mobile handsets widely regarded as a ‘can't live without' companion, Saleh also estimates that devices with a personalised single Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) will enable users to connect to aggregated content from across networks, including DVB-H, cellular and IPTV systems.

"As well as searching and accessing favourite shows while mobile, the EPG will transform the device into a wireless remote control. So subscribers can send instructions to the set-top box or Personal Video Recorder (PVR) to record programming or download a movie," he says.

This example of technology's convergence, enhancing convenience, demonstrates how mobile TV will enable digital TV to extend beyond the living room and transform end-users from passive recipients into active subscribers, the report says.

However, a number of technological and standardisation issues must be addressed before such grandiose services can reach the mass market.

Mobile TV demands a broad technical compass according to Saleh. He adds that all tiers of the industry must cooperate to drive value from the service.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code