Wi-Fi networks to make mobile TV a US$7bn mass market

6 Jul 2010

Mobile TV will be brought to the masses largely via Wi-Fi, according to Juniper Research, easing 3G network congestion. Support for dedicated mobile broadcast networks like DVB-H will fade.

Juniper Research points to a surge in applications which can take advantage of the increasing availability of free Wi-Fi services and are set to boost a mobile TV industry with anticipated revenues of nearly US$7bn by 2015.

According to the report, mobile TV traffic over Wi-Fi is expected to increase by 25 times over the 2010-2015 period as streamed service penetration and usage levels – also fuelled by consumer smartphone adoption – rise sharply.

However, the report notes that despite the capacity relief that Wi-Fi offers to cellular networks, greater mobile TV usage will still place the 3G and 3.5G networks under stress.

“Cellular networks are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver high quality mobile TV services at times of peak usage: thus, the World Cup has posed particular problems with large spikes in viewing figures,” said report author Dr Windsor Holden.

“Wi-Fi can ameliorate this in the short term, but this is only a partial remedy.”

The report suggests that while the deployment of LTE networks should reduce congestion, the use of unpaired spectrum – as in the forthcoming IMB (Integrated Mobile Broadcast) trials by Vodafone, Orange and O2 – might be an alternative or complementary solution.

However, Juniper is less sanguine about the prospects for dedicated mobile broadcast technologies such as DVB-H, citing the availability of handsets capable of receiving analogue or digital terrestrial signals, the economic downturn and changing consumer viewing habits among the reasons why such networks are widely perceived as being financially unviable.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years