Mobile TV: Ericsson's solution

Technology & Convergence

Mobile TV targeting residential customers has started being used in several countries, and it has met a relative success: some users have found it useful as for example a news and current affairs source. Today, South Korea and Japan are at the forefront of this developing sector.

Over the next five years, some African countries will be ready to look into mobile TV.

If we review the technology penetration across Africa, mobile access is clearly the winner compared to other media: 45% mobile penetration in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 2% for internet access, and 7 to 10% for TV.

The reasons why most vendors believe that Africa has great potential for mobile TV are as follows:

-traditional TV has not developed that well.

-high mobile penetration across Africa

-content TV rights are usually lower in Africa than in other regions

-Several African regulators support the case for mobile TV.

-There is a strong demand for African TV programs such as football and news.

Mobile TV will be another key differentiator among competitors, and could create an additional and cumulative revenue stream as subscribers numbers increase.

Key barriers to entry are the initial investment and the user packaged offer. What clients get, the price they will have to pay and the handset's ease of use are essential to adoption.

It should be noted that in Africa, sales staff in the high streets do not always appear to understand how to convincingly sell mobile services: when mobile TV comes, it has got to be made easy for clients.

Many people are still concerned how using Mobile TV services will affect their bill and what image quality they will get. This has to be demonstrated in shops and made crystal clear.

Power consumption, memory, User interface design and Processing power are some of the handsets' challenges, but recent smartphones now handle mobile TV well.

On the content providers' side, mobile TV opens up a new market for the content specifically tailored for mobile TVs including what experts call mobisodes (3 to 5 minutes).

In the past, we have seen some broadcasters, content providers and telecoms service providers ordering a mobile TV box instead of a custom solution. They have then tried to figure out how it worked and how to market it. Expensive user solutions has led to failures.

Providers should keep away from these mistakes, and make sure that they understand the value proposition, clients' benefits, the technical aspect and the return on investment.

Ericsson is one of the major mobile TV vendors present in Africa.

Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre interviewed Sanjay Kaul - Vice President Multimedia Solutions & SI at Ericsson to find out more about the group's Mobile TV solution for the African continent.

Q: When did Ericsson start providing Mobile TV solutions?

A Early 2004

Q: How many mobile operators and TV users do you support globally? What about in Africa?

A: Ericsson globally has 70+ customers, in MUSA we have 3 (MTN NG, Mcel and Econet Zimbabwe)

Q: Which countries in Africa should adopt Mobile TV solution?

A: Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, SA - any countries where the operator has a 3G network

Q: How long does it take to implement such solution?

A: In general terms 3 Months

Q: In practical terms, what are the implementation phases?

A: Solution Analysis & Planning, Installation and Integration, Soft Launch and Launch.

Q: Do you sometimes help launch the service if the client requires it?

Ericsson is an e2e solution provider. We can assist in launch strategy.

Q: Are there any typical mistakes that SPs do when launching Mobile TV?

Operators tend to focus on Technology more than content and launch strategy. It is essential the customer knows which user segments they are going to target.

Q: Can you help accelerate time to market and maximise return on investment (RoI)?

A: yes, Ericsson can provide a standard package which can assist in and attractive launch to get maximum return

Q: What type of software and equipment is required to set up an Ericsson mobile TV solution?

A: Our ECDS Entry level solution consists of 2 Sun Servers, and 1 Encoder.

Q: Would you be able to provide a price range for acquiring this solution? (entry level)

A: An Entry Level solution is around Euro 160K

Q: Who are your mobile TV clients? (proportion of telecoms operators vs. broadcasters )

A: All our Mobile TV customers are Operators, who connect to broadcasters for content.

Q: What is your business model for mobile TV? What is the right ecosystem to make it viable?

A: Subscription based model

Q: Which African countries and SPs' do you consider as having real potential for mobile TV?

A: All operators who have 3G networks should consider Mobile TV.

Q: What type of wireless network do you need to implement a mobile TV solution?

A: Ericsson's Mobile TV solution runs on standard 3G networks using unicast as delivery.

Sanjay Kaul - Vice President Multimedia Solutions & SI at Ericsson SA.