Mobile Video Keeps Climbing

Rory MurphyRory Murphy works for Equinix (a data centre and interconnection platform), while Matt Stagg is a network manager at mobile operator EE. They discussed the DTG’s working group, the Mobile Video Alliance, which the two companies established in 2013 (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 21).

The MVA provides a forum for mobile video ecosystem players to come together and discuss issues, such as delivery and quality of experience. It is intended to foster collaboration and co-operation. Participants include Vodafone, Virgin Media and EE.

There are two tasks that the MVA was set up to handle: to define the mobile video ecosystem (what it is, how it operates) and to define standards. Through the course of its work, members have seen a massive rise in the value and offering of digital video – partly due to new channels, of which mobile video is one.

One of the areas that the MVA deals with is content preparation. Multi-screen delivery via a rising number of devices is driving a significant increase in transcoding requirements: as much as 50,000 hours of programming per year is sent to up to 1,000 different types of device: roughly equivalent to 16TB of mezzanine video every day. Content distribution is another part of the group’s role. Quoting Futuresource data, Murphy said that content distribution networks (CDNs) are expected to carry 55% of internet traffic by 2018, up from 36% in 2013.

Matt “I have a West Country accent so no-one expects much of me” Stagg said that 4G video is coming to dominate the internet – we are now at the point that LTE can be seen as a video distribution network. 15% of mobile data use came from social media in 2014, according to Ericsson; that figure is expected to remain the same in 2020, while mobile video will take 55% of traffic, growing 45% annually in 2020.

Matt StaggAkamai’s latest State of the Internet report showed the UK leading the world for mobile video, and coming in first for average download speed (although I noticed that Korea was missing from the chart – TA).

As an example of collaboration driving innovation, Stagg talked about the LTE Broadcast trial between EE, Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, the BBC and the Glasgow Science Centre during last year’s Commonwealth Games. This was not only the UK’s first LTE Broadcast experiment, but the world’s first at 2,600MHz.

At the end of the session, Hewlett asked if all mobile operators are involved in the standards under development by the MVA. Stagg explained that the group is not developing new standards, but working on existing ones. Where they apply, the MVA will share its work with other operators.

An audience member asked if anyone using LTE Broadcast could set themselves up a broadcaster, without paying licence fees. Murphy said not, citing Aereo (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 16). Aereo was a US TV service streaming live TV over-the-air to web browsers, renting an individual antenna to each user, rather than using a single one, to get around copyright law. The company was closed after broadcasters brought litigation against it.

An audience member said that broadcast is very efficient, but mobile broadcast may not be – what is the mobile industry doing to avoid the next pitfall? For instance, will EE, Three and Vodafone use three separate VoD systems to deliver the same content, thus taking up lots of spectrum? Stagg said that it is necessary to drive handset penetration and thus drive ubiquity of coverage.