AT&T Boss Calls for End to Mobile-Video Babel

Carriers and hardware providers have made it too hard for users to easily talk to others over mobile video, says AT&T boss at MWC

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

February 27, 2012

2 Min Read
AT&T Boss Calls for End to Mobile-Video Babel

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2012 -- Let Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) FaceTime with Android; let Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) video chat with BlackBerry.

That was the overriding message of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega, as he took the stage this morning at the opening keynote of the massive mobile show here in Spain. Mobile video will increasingly be the lifeblood of operators, device vendors and application providers in years to come, but it's not being made easy for users to talk to their friends on different devices and services at the moment.

"We've made it too difficult for customers to place a video call from one device to another," de la Vega told the crowd.

Indeed, video services are a veritable mobile Babel at present with major players that deliver services over the top (OTT) of mobile networks, such as Apple FaceTime and Skype not talking to each other. FaceTime, for example, only communicates with other Apple devices. Currently it is down to the mobile user to find third-party applications like Qik Inc. and Tango that work cross-platform. (See Microsoft Fills Hole in Skype.)

Mobile carriers are looking at the prospect of nearly two-thirds of all their traffic being video communications by 2016, de la Vega noted. There was a palpable tension at this morning's keynote session arising from the suspicion in some quarters that OTT players are piggy-backing on the big investments made by the carriers to deliver video services that serve their own bottom lines.

Everyone, de la Vega argued, must work together to make video easier for the end user. In order to "keep fueling" the growth cycle for the entire mobile industry.

This will also involve making video more efficient on mobile networks. De la Vega called for improvements to the way videos are encoded (codecs) so that they compress and stream easier across a mobile network.

There is also one big thing that carriers can do to help mend fractured ecosystems and make life better for the average mobile subscriber:

"We have to embrace developers ... there are ways to make it easier," de la Vega said.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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