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MWC 2011: Mobile Video Goes Two-Ways

Sarah Thomas
2/17/2011

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2011 -- Mobile video chat is set to be the next evolution of calling if the demos and discussion here in Barcelona are any indication. A number of vendors are showing off two-way chat demos that offer wireless operators a way to get in on the conversation.

Plus, we know this will be a big trend in 2011, because celebrities say so too. Once Ashton Kutcher's on board, it's game on.

Among those looking to help operators take advantage of new smartphones and tablets with front and rear-facing cameras is mobile messaging vendor Syniverse Technologies LLC . The company is tackling the formidable challenge of interoperability and announced a deal with Korea Telecom for mobile video broadcast that will display across any 3G or 4G network and any device. (See KT Launches Interoperable Mobile Video.)

Syniverse handles all the transcoding, video compression and formatting needed for whichever network the traffic is traversing. It plans to offer this white label service to other mobile operators to eventually achieve full-scale interoperability.

"To me, video represents the most exciting and dangerous time in the industry," said Syniverse CTO Jeff Gordon. "Exciting because all the operators are trying to replace their voice revenue and our view is that voice revenue will become video revenue."

Gordon says that achieving interoperability was the key to jump-starting the market for SMS and MMS, and he expects mobile video messages to follow the same trajectory. The ultimate goal is a service that works across apps, devices and networks.

Video chat alternatives
Both Gordon and Daniel Weisbeck, VP EMEA marketing at Polycom Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM), which is making a mobile telepresence push, agreed that it won't be an easy task technically or from the standpoint of operators cooperating to reach open standards for interoperability, but most companies aren't waiting for that to happen to offer alternatives.

Companies ranging from High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) to Tango to ooVoo to Skype Ltd. to LifeSize Communications Inc. and, of course, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) are all making moves in the space. See (LifeSize Luring Businesses to Mobile Video.)

Aylus Networks Inc. also introduced Aylus Video Calling this week to enable mobile operators to include calling as an extension of voice calls. (See Aylus Networks Debuts Video Calling at MWC.)

Aylus CEO Mark Edwards predicts that 15 percent of all mobile voice calls will add video in the next five years, totaling more than 150 billion minutes of video calling per year, representing new revenue opportunities for the operators that otherwise will be going over the top of them to drive heavy data traffic without anything in return.

"The carrier is a communications company," Edwards said. "The heart of the business is voice, but with a high-speed network and quality of experience, it has to be video. You can't do more voice."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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