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The Age of Video


TMCnews Featured Article

June 13, 2011

The Age of Video

By Patrick Lopez, Founder and CEO, {Core Analysis}

Do you remember how it all started? How back in the days, you needed at least two phones if you traveled frequently in Europe and the US, when GSM, CDMA and TDMA were trying to become the dominant radio access? 

You couldn’t send a text (let alone a picture message) to another carrier. There was no mobile email, no social networks, no YouTube (News - Alert).

It was interesting that at that time, radio technologies were incompatible. Operators then were battling each other over who had the most coverage, the largest network, who had the clearer voice quality. Remember the Sprint ads with the pin drop, the Cingular dropped call ads or Verizon’s (News - Alert) “can you hear me now”?

It was the 90’s, it was the age of voice. Carriers were competing to get as many customers as possible, as fast as possible. The game, then, was “I have the biggest network” or “you can actually complete calls on my network”. Carriers challenges revolved around geographical coverage and new customer additions.

Remember how texting then became the biggest thing? How AT&T (News - Alert) introduced SMS to America during the second season of American Idol and you could pick an all-you-can-eat voice, data, texting plan from any carrier?

It was 2000, it was the age of messaging. Carriers were pushing messaging as a way to expand beyond voice. Texting, picture mails, visual mail, mobile was the next big thing. Carriers’ challenges then were about churn, value added services, declining voice ARPU.

From these challenges were born all-you-can-eat uncapped data plans.

Now it’s all about socializing, networking, updating, tweeting and blogging. Underneath it all, the technology is almost the same, but the services have evolved. 

The main thing that is new is video.

As video grows to become the dominant part of mobile traffic, most carriers will start communicating around it. It could be the age of video. Will they be focusing on services such as mobile TV, video calls or will content providers and aggregators like Hulu (News - Alert) and YouTube take over? 

Today, most mobile strategies around video are about cost containment. It is a defensive move born from the fact that with the traffic growth, many networks won’t be able to meet the demand before they have an operational 4G network. It leads to data caps, throttling, new data plans.

The next natural step will be monetization, but will require more sophisticated billing systems, policy and traffic management As carriers started as voice specialists and became messaging specialists, I believe they will need to become video specialists if they want to capture mobile video monetization opportunities.

Patrick Lopez (News - Alert) is founder and CEO of {Core Analysis} and consults on mobile broadband, video optimization, policy management and messaging. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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