Seeking 3G Alternatives for Mobile TV
WiFi could be the interim solution, but that's not a sustainable one either, according to Juniper Research Ltd. ’s latest report. Juniper finds that mobile TV traffic over WiFi will increase 25-fold between 2010 and 2015. Apps riding over free WiFi will also drive mobile TV market revenues to nearly $7 billion by 2015.
While WiFi is helping expedite the market, it can't eliminate the 3G strain as more and more users tune in, says report author Windsor Holden. (See World Cup Update: US Out, Mobile TV Up , Sprint Touts Cheap Mobile TV on WiMax & 3G , and 5 Mobile Apps That Bust Data Caps.)
Holden says Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks will help lessen the impact of the traffic, but tapping unpaired spectrum -- as Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Salt SA , and Telefónica UK Ltd. are doing in their Integrated Mobile Broadcast (IMB) trials in Europe -- will also be important.
The carriers’ three-month pilot uses shared network infrastructure to deploy mobile broadcast services over relatively unused 3G Time Division Duplex spectrum. According to the carriers, this spectrum is open to 150 operators spanning 60 countries and more than half a billion subscribers.
Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) suggested another 3G conservation option at its Uplinq conference last week. Its mobile TV division, FLO TV, is pitching data-casting, a technology that broadcasts IP data without using the 3G network, as a way to relieve traffic. Operators could broadcast multimedia products like magazines or even entire TV shows in off-peak times in an on-demand, off-network format. It won't replace streaming live TV, Qualcomm says, but it will be important to making mobile TV a sustainable service. (See Qualcomm Open to Selling FLO TV Unit.)
Mobile video seems to have taught the industry that 3G isn’t sufficient for high-data traffic and that LTE might not be either. If mobile TV does, in fact, become as big as mobile video, in terms of data usage and traffic, it’s smart that carriers are already exploring their options.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile