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Mobile TV gains momentum in the UAE

Maturing 4G ecosystem in the UAE is a boost to mobile TV

Gulf News

Dubai: The availability of high-speed networks in the region will see an increase in mobile TV and consumers’ use of video as a tool for communication and personal entertainment this year.

In many of the cities in the region, bandwidth from fixed fibre to the home (FttH) and Mobile 4G LTE networks will finally enable both interactive video services and streamed content to be delivered at acceptable quality levels.

“Mobile TV offerings have seen great uptake in markets like the UAE as consumers have the ability to place-shift their favourite TV experiences — choosing to enjoy content outside of the home anytime, anywhere,” Dubai-based Shi Yaohong, President of Huawei Middle East, told Gulf News.

According to Ray Hassan, President of Ericsson Gulf, mobile TV has been one of those anomalies globally, there’s so much potential in the market yet the quality of mobile TV offerings hasn’t really been up to par.

“It’s an interesting situation because we’ve seen so much success of so many over the top players; a lot of people use smartphones to watch things like YouTube, but for some reasons operators haven’t been able to capture the mobile TV experience to its fullest,” he said.

Greater access

The rapid uptake of tablet and smartphone devices in the UAE has also been coupled with greater access to faster 4G services, which have together helped nurture the mobile TV ecosystem.

Consumers are now able to choose from a variety of mobile TV offerings via both of the local operators.

From our perspective, Yaohong said the maturation of the UAE’s 4G ecosystem will play a significant role in mobile TV over the coming year, providing a richer viewing experience to consumers as well as helping operators to bring down their own costs in managing such large amounts of data consumption.

Today’s telecom landscape is one in which market saturation is already “quite high with the majority of people already connected to some form of fixed and mobile network. As such, capturing additional customers is no longer the business driver it once was for operators,” he said.

Andy Baul-Lewis, Director, Information and Communications Technologies at Frost & Sullivan, said in its latest report that as Over the Top (OTT) services become increasingly more significant, operators may begin re-establishing some control over both usage and suppliers.

“By bringing-in and promoting services within a portal or Virtual Service Operation setup, operators can both protect service levels of the OTT offering, whilst at the same time working with suppliers to control other aspects such as quality of delivery and even different charging rates,” Baul-Lewis said.

Holistic approach

Even looking at the infrastructure itself, competition is becoming less defined by the types of technology used and benchmarked more closely to the customer’s actual service experience on a daily basis.

“A holistic approach is required to evolve operators’ business models, creating broader, smarter and greener networks that will bring down operational costs while increasing the average revenue per user,” Yaohong said.

“The challenges of rolling out new networks and the expected lower levels of returns, means that new services will be aggressively marketed, and roll-out will become more commercial in focus. In markets looking beyond 3G, the more successful operators in 2013 will also be the ones that can unlock the power of LTE with in-demand Apps and services,” Baul-Lewis said.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity for operators today, Yaohong said is to develop a business strategy that effectively harnesses mobile data as a revenue mainstay.