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Mobile TV and video services are possible without 3G and dedicated mobile broadcasting networks

While many mobile network operators (MNOs) are planning to use a combination of 3G and dedicated mobile broadcasting networks to deliver mobile TV and video services, they must not overlook emerging alternatives, according to a new report, Critical Ingredients of Mobile TV: femtocells and sideloading, written by Unwired Insight.

Many MNOs already offer TV and video services over their 3G networks. Concerns over capacity and quality of service are driving MNOs to combine 3G networks with dedicated mobile broadcasting networks (such as DVB-H and MediaFLO). However, these are not the only ways of delivering mobile TV content. Indoor wireless systems (such as femtocells and WLAN) and sideloading (where content is transferred from a PC or other device to memory in a mobile handset) are important delivery mechanisms with valuable benefits.

“iPhone users can already watch a range of TV content without the need for 3G or mobile broadcasting capability, using sideloading and WLAN streaming,” says Dr Alastair Brydon, co-author of the report.

Key findings of the new report include:

  • Trials of DVB-H services have shown significant indoor usage of mobile TV services, with 36-50% of participants using these services mainly at home. Indoor systems such as femtocells could successfully carry this traffic, potentially with higher quality than is achievable with outdoor 3G and broadcasting networks.
  • Sideloading can be a highly effective way of delivering content that is not time critical, such as pre-recorded TV programmes (for example soap operas, dramas, situation comedies and documentaries) and movies. Compared to other mobile TV distribution methods, sideloading can provide guaranteed reliability in any location, with very high quality. For example, video content available on iTunes for Apple iPods and iPhones is encoded at a data rate of over 1Mbit/s, compared with 128kbit/s for some 3G services.
  • MNOs that are unable to deploy broadcasting networks could potentially deliver a compelling proposition without filling up the capacity of their 3G networks. If 75% of mobile TV content was delivered using sideloading and 60% of streamed content was consumed indoors, then 3G networks would need to carry just 10% of total mobile TV traffic.

Critical Ingredients of Mobile TV: femtocells and sideloading, considers the role of indoor wireless systems and sideloading alongside 3G macrocells (including HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE) and broadcasting networks (such as DVB-H and MediaFLO). The report analyses the capabilities and limitations of each technology, and maps these against the factors that will influence customer choices on mobile TV services. Using modelling of typical 3G networks and service mixes, the report assesses which technologies are required to deliver a compelling service proposition and which may be unnecessary. It also considers how operators can best take advantage of the range of different mobile TV delivery mechanisms, some of which may not be in their direct control.

Unwired Insight was established in 2001 and provides expert advice on wireless technology, mobile networks, devices and standards, including GSM, GPRS, DECT, UMTS and LTE.

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