Musings on Broadband Control
Are you still enjoying free mobile streams and podcasts or have you converted to a Broadband subscription? Recent market developments suggest sooner or later you'll have opted for the later, if you haven't already.
Since the Mobile TV market rose to decadence in early 2005, streamed Mobile Television has been the most common platform available. It exploits the 3G network to stream content to mobile handsets. The most prevalent form of streamed mobile television is Unicast.
Unicast operates on a dedicated stream - user basis, meaning that if a user wishes to ‘plug in’ to Unicast, then a dedicated stream is sent to his/her handset on the operator's network.
Initially Unicast was very successful and exceptionally user friendly as the number of Unicast Mobile TV users was relatively low. Cracks began to surface ,however, when demand increased and a larger number of users simultaneously tried to ‘plug in’.
Such capacity issues cause the network to flood - often resulting in a disruption to services. Honeymoon over, right? Not quite.
Despite its shortcomings, streamed services - Unicast in particular, has continued to grow. Within the streaming Unicast services, MobiTV is the most prominent. The US has also seen the emergence of GoTV and SmartVideo, both of who are trying to compete with MobiTV.
As the Mobile TV market has developed more and more, platform vendors within the streamed Unicast market have enabled Mobile TV services for mobile operators. Vidiator is a good example, Vidiator helped deliver a 24 hour live Mobile TV streaming service for the infamous reality TV show ‘Big Brother’.
MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Services) - often considered the perfected form of Unicast then emerged. MBMS is part of Release 6 of the 3GPP standard.
MBMS offers an answer to the Unicast stream capacity question, as it uses broadcast or multicast as a delivery mechanism. This means that multiple users will be streamed with the same content on a single delivery channel - conserving bandwidth.
With Mobile TV growing at such an exceptional rate - globally, it's almost remarkable that broadcast Mobile TV technologies haven't taken the market completely.
That could all be about to change, with impending capacity issues in streaming and signs of user demand for Broadcast Mobile TV technologies hitting fever pitch.
There is an exclusive number of broadcast mobile services that are part of the DAB radio standard, Qualcomm's MediaFLO and Japanese ISDB-TV technologies - both of which are in competition for market share.
These technologies include the European led DVB-H, the Korean led DMB and the BT Movio lead DAB-IP T. The key with broadband services is that the same signal is broadcast across a large area regardless of whether or not anyone is watching. It seems inevitable, at this point, broadband will go from strength to strength.
It would be naive to dismiss streamed mobile TV completely, which should preserve a limited role, but this will be dependent on many delicate market movings, and will vary by geographic region.
With that said, in such a delicate market nothing is certain, the iPhone/apps revolution, for example, have made things even more competitive - and even less predictable.