Friend or foe?

Sections of the broadcast industry remain divided over whether the development of WiMAX wireless broadband networks will prove a blessing or a curse in the rush towards establishing mobile content delivery services. John Parnell investigates.

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By  John Parnell Published  May 26, 2008

However, with mobile TV services yet to bear substantial fruit in established markets worldwide, any commercial deployment in the Middle East would not be without substantial risk.

According to a 2006 report published by Ipsos Insight and Forrester focusing on mobile internet access in Western markets, only seven percent of mobile internet users accessed video services on a regular basis.

These figures are of course for narrowband connections. It is reasonable to assume that poor quality and slow speeds have contributed to the lack of interest in bandwidth hungry video.

The decrease in download time and the improved streaming that broadband would offer, may be enough to entice users.

This will only happen however if they are provided with high-quality streaming services and comprehensive signal coverage.

It is unlikely that the future of WiMAX will be decided by the implementation of mobile TV services alone.

The creation of widespread WiMAX networks providing broadband internet services would offer an alternative delivery platform for broadcasters.

A city-based WiMAX network with solid subscription rates represents arguably the ideal commercial environment for mobile TV services. Investment in separate DVB-H infrastructure would then be unnecessary.

The question for broadcasters and telcos alike is whether to press ahead with their DVB-H plans, or wait for the increasingly likely deployment of WiMAX and piggyback mobile TV transmissions on that platform.

Going global

Mobile technology provider NextWave Wireless and telecom services giant Alcatel-Lucent signed an agreement to develop WiMAX broadcast solutions for mobile operators worldwide.

"User demand for mobile broadcast services is rapidly increasing and we believe that the exciting new applications offered through this alliance will provide mobile operators a unique ability to deliver the key differentiating feature of 4G networks," said Allen Salmasi, CEO of NextWave Wireless.

Alcatel-Lucent will integrate NextWave's recently announced MXtv technology into their industry-leading WiMAX solutions portfolio, based on the 802.16e-2005 (Rev-e) standard.

The two companies plan to perform a series of interoperability tests with Alcatel-Lucent's commercial WiMAX infrastructure starting in the second quarter of 2008.

"4G networks can offer rich media content such as live television, movies and music on-demand, real-time video streaming and conferencing, radio, multi-player gaming and many other interactive streaming applications to mobile devices - anywhere, anytime. Given the expected advertising revenue from a wide range of live and cached rich media content delivered to mobile devices, we believe that MXtv will significantly drive network operator's ARPU and minimise churn with more sticky applications," Salmasi added.

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