The State of Mobile Video 2016

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"5G is about more than faster mobile services—it will enable new use cases related to the internet of things," Rima Qureshi, SVP and chief strategy officer for Ericsson, says in the report. For example, Ericsson has built a test bed for applying 5G networking functions and data analytics to public transport, with the aim of reducing congestion and lowering environmental 

To ready itself for cellular-driven machine-to-machine communication, Ericsson joined with Cisco in November to create a new mobile enterprise platform. Ericsson says that this will draw on Cisco's Wi-Fi and Ericsson's LTE and 5G work to accelerate platforms for the IoT.

LTE Broadcast Searches for a Business Case

At the start of the year, LTE Broadcast (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Service or eMBMS) seemed to be the technology to watch, but operators have taken a small step back while business models remain unresolved.

Among Quickplay's 2015 trials was one in May that sent five HD streams over Vodafone's 4G network during a Spanish La Liga match played at Estadio Mestalla, home of Valencia CF.

"Where 80,000 people are trying to access video in one spot [whether the same video stream or not] using LTE Broadcast to alleviate the bandwidth strain is a natural," says Jim Nelson, cofounder of Roundbox, which was acquired by Quickplay in March. Quickplay sees a subscription model working in this scenario.

Other applications for LTE Broadcast include push-VOD, monetised either as a traditional pay model or ad-supported; enterprise-scale software updates or notifications; and, most interestingly, live linear TV. The U.S cable system is in no danger of being replaced, but in developing countries, LTE Broadcast is overtaking the TV infrastructure. According to Nelson, "You can have 8-10 channels and that becomes the offer to a large number of people."

Nokia's Munich-based trial of the technology, as a replacement for terrestrial broadcast standard DVB-T or T2, continues until March 2016. Helmut Schink, head of telco standards at the company, says the tests showed that the cost to operate an LTE network is comparable to that of DTT.

Few operators, though, are taking him up on the bet. In the U.K., the operator-backed Mobile Video Alliance (MVA) dismissed the idea.

"Mobile operators will wait and see how successful in-stadia applications are before expanding support across the network," DTG principal IP engineer George Robertson says. "If the business case in venues and live events works, then we will see more applications."

MVA committee member EE remains a cheerleader for the technology, but reined in its ambitions over 2015. It plans a limited live rollout for LTE Broadcast toward the end of 2016.

"We're not saying it's a commercial launch but we will start to putcapacity on the network for certain events where it provides benefits," Stagg says.

EE tested the tech during the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium in June, and the company views LTE Broadcast principally as a means of upping capacity in peak periods.

Less certain is whether unicast and multicast can be dynamically combined to make better use of spectrum and network resources. However, the technique has yet to be proven to everyone's satisfaction.

Mobile-First for Content Owners

"Digital-first is not enough. The whole media industry has to move to a mobile-first strategy," says Eric Scherer, director of future media at France Télévisions. This trend is already underway as broadcasters from HBO to CBS launched online apps to fight back against OTT players, but the fact that this comment was made at broadcast trade show IBC is worth noting.

"The most important screen is the one you have in your pocket," Scherer says. "Mobile is not just a new distribution channel for traditional broadcast content ... it is a behaviour. And while Millennials do prefer the mobile screen, in reality mobile changes everything. We are all Screenagers."

For broadcasters, that means embracing live streaming apps and other potential disruptors. Twitter launched Periscope last March and quickly gained notoriety and kudos. The controversy came during a high profile piracy count during the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao boxing match in May. An unknown number of people reportedly tapped into Periscope-facilitated streams sent from mobile devices aimed at TVs or the live action, circumventing the nearly $100 pay-per-view fee. Analysts suggested that many of those who opted for the suboptimal-quality Periscope pictures only did so because of problems with pay-per-view authentication. Yet the app is proving a useful tool for mainstream media to augment live broadcasts. For example, the service was used by British TV presenters Ant and Dec to stream backstage footage during a broadcast of Britain's Got Talent in May.

"It's not the best quality video in the world," said Dan Biddle, Twitter U.K.'s director of broadcast media partnerships, in a keynote at TV sales show Mipcom. "The point is that it's a visceral experience." The BBC has taken note, experimenting with live streams to Snapchat as well as virtual reality gear to augment coverage of the immigrant crisis in Europe.

The way in which TV is consumed is changing, due in most part to increased TV and video delivery over broadband networks. In December, Ofcom's Connected Nations report revealed that homes with no TV but which maintain a broadband connection had trebled (4.3% of all households, or 1.1 million homes) between 2009 and 2014. Indeed, the video streaming subscription market in the U.K. is on track to reach top £1.17 billion by 2019, reported Mintel, led by "dramatic" growth for services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Instant Video.

TV requests for BBC iPlayer continue to rise. In October 2015 the total was 313 million, a year-on-year increase of 15 million including significant increases of access on mobiles (9%) and tablets (8%).

2016 will prove a watershed year for the BBC. Even in an era where more and more of its audience are finding news, information and entertainment online rather than through traditional broadcasts, the BBC is under pressure to streamline its operations in preparation for a renewal of its charter. This expires in July and underpins the way the BBC's funded. Linear channel BBC3 moves online in March, the most high profile of a series of moves in which the broadcaster looks to slash costs and cater for the needs of a digital first audience.

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