Mobile TV to ride on 2.5G networks

By : |July 18, 2007 0

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The India telecom industry, especially the mobile sector, is witnessing innovations today and offering operators innumerable opportunities to boost their declining ARPUs (average revenue per user).

The value added service providers have not been discouraged by the delay in the announcement of the 3G policy by the government, which is indirectly baring the mobile operators from launching the 3G services on its network.

Using the technology benefits the operators are all set to launch the Mobile TV and video-on-demand for its subscribers on the 2G or the 2.5G network.

The technology service providers claim that the launch of the 3G services on the current 2.5G networks would entirely change TV viewing experience for the subscribers. Sanjiv Mittal, CEO Bharti Telesoft, said that the operators would be keen on offering these services, which would boost their revenues.

Experts say that the declining tariff rates have indirectly affected the ARPUs of each service providers, and the operators would earn the majority of share from VAS. The operators are betting high on introducing innovative services to boost the market.

Commenting on the declining ARPUs of the telecom operators, B Vamshi Reddy, director, Apalya Technologies said that operators should look forward to launch new services to add better revenues to its cart.

What is Mobile TV?

Mobile TV is a service through which mobile subscribers are able to access the TV channels on the handheld device. It is a service offered by the mobile operators jointly with the value-added service providers. It is an application through which the subscribers can enjoy real time TV programmes on mobile phones.

In addition to the TV programmes it also offers interactive live TV shows and video-on-demand, depending upon the offering of the mobile carriers. There are two ways of delivering mobile TV— two-way cellular network and through one way dedicated broadcast network. However, experts suggest that 3G (WCDMA/HSPA) network is the fastest and easiest way to get mobile TV off the ground. However, globally majority of service providers have launched mobile TV on two-way cellular network.

The platforms used for offering this service include digital video broadcasting-handheld (DVB-H), digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB), TDtv (based on TD-CDMA technology from IPWireless, 1seg (based on Japan’s ISDB-T), DAB and MediaFLO.



Market for Mobile TV

According to statistics, mobile video revenues in the US totaled $146 million in Q1 2007, which is growing 198 per cent year-over-year. There were 8.4 million mobile video subscribers last quarter with penetration doubling to nearly 4 per cent since Q1 2006.

Reddy is of the view that the India market is yet to take off on Mobile TV front. He said that Europe is one of the mature markets globally on Mobile TV.

“Currently the VoD and the mobile TV is at a nascent stage in India, which is undoubtedly pick up soon. Mobile TV and VoD contributes 22 per cent to the operators revenues in Europe,” Reddy said.

He forecasts that with the current 2.5G network, once the mobile TV is launched in India it is likely to contribute less than 10 per cent to the operators revenues. Reddy said that in the next 2 to 3 years mobile TV and VoB would contribute more than 20 per cent to the operators business.

“By then, if the 3G spectrum is released it would boost the growth in this service,” he added.

Apalya Technologies have commercially launched its video-on-demand and Mobile TV on the Idea Cellular network. “The access is made available through GPRS live streaming and is based on real time. It fairly runs on the current 2G and 2.5G frequency available with the operators,” Reddy said.

He said that the deployment of the service requires three to six months of time frame depending upon the service provider and number of subscribers.

“We have a bouquet of 20 to 25 TV channels and are offering on the Idea network currently,” he added.

Bharti Telesoft’s Live TV solution promises the mobile users DVD quality on their handset even in the 2.5G environment. “The subscribers do not need to wait until 3G networks are in place to watch television on their handsets. We have successfully tested devised and tested a compression technology that compresses an audio format to 4 to 5 times smaller than MP3 and delivers a video format up to 10 times more efficient than MPEG-4 – without compromising on the quality of feed and output,” Mittal said.

This compression technology is based on a video coding technology and is designed for standard mobile devices (Symbian, UIQ and MS Smartphone) that have a relatively low CPU processing power, display resolution, and memory capabilities.

However, the technology providers are already in to talks with major service providers to launch this service across the country. The service providers are working out two different payment models – one is the subscription model and the other is pay as per usage.

Most of the handsets available in the market ranging from mid-end to high-end ones support the mobile TV feature today. The vas providers have set the ground ready for the launch of this service, it is now the operators turn to set it rolling.

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