Moving Towards Mobile Convergence

PCQ Bureau
New Update

With the world becoming increasingly mobile, the demand for easier access to content and services from any location and device at any time has become a necessity. With the easy availability of video and multimedia content on the web, users now desire an equivalent, if not better, on-demand access to that content from a mobile device. With 2G and 3G in place and operators are now exploring the new fourth generation (4G) wireless technologies such as Long Term Evolution (LTE). This offers sufficient performance to support IP based streaming video and provides multimedia services to a large number of consumers simultaneously, with a quality that most will find attractive.


Growth of the Internet and wireline is enabling rapid convergence of IP video, audio, and data into new applications and broadband wireless networks look promising to provide access to these anytime, anywhere. All these new services are also going to bridge the urban-rural digital divide, facilitating socio-economic development of the masses. This is a golden opportunity for the telecom operators to rake in additional revenues and improve the ARPU which has been dwindling in rural areas, where most of the expansion of wireless service is currently taking place. 3G is emerging as the accepted technology platform across geographic boundaries as it can deliver high speed data and voice on a single network.

Going forward the market is moving from the mobile revolution to the next level where customers are expecting an experience across different devices. More and more users are moving from the basic phones to smart phones, PDA's, tablets, IPTV and also, in the near future on devices connected to their cars.


What is resulting in this experience of users demanding more and more content on the move? Users are always on the go and a clear world-wide trend is a shift from viewing what comes and available to what users Need which is “I want to watch and listen as per my convenience”, meaning Prime Time = MY TIME giving consumers more flexibility in when, what, where and on which device they would like to view the content of their choice.

Since more and more content is being made available to the user, his demands on viewing this content have also increased. With technology being an enabler, users having access to new technologies is now becoming a reality. No longer does he need to view or listen to his favorite shows etc on the television. He can view it on his mobile phone or his smart phone or a hand held smart device such as iPad or a tablet. Growth of social networking, the need for always being connected with family and friends has created a need for delivering content across various screens.

Some of the key factors resulting in convergence is the continual improvement in quality of experience and reduction in cost of content delivery which include (a) improvement in air interface meaning LTE, EDGE, HSPA etc., (b) improvement in delivery of video technology (c) availability of devices and improvement in technology and quality and prices being reduced and lastly (d) flexible deployment models.


Statistics points out that:-

  • Mobile Application market would be US$58B by 2014 (Gartner)
  • Tablet Sales will reach 171 million units In 2014 (ISuppli)
  • Connected TV's to reach 122 million units in 2014 (Display Search)
  • 129 million WiMax users will connect to cars by 2016 ( ABI Research)

However, there are few challenges that could face with such a demand for convergence to take place for people on the move. These are:-

  • Multiple fragmented operating systems and browsers
  • Varying device capabilities and user interface
  • Ever evolving cloud based connected services

Going forward users are expecting connected applications and solutions available across devices.


To give some examples of what a user would expect across an IPTV (Internet Protocol Television):

  • Multi-channel multi casting : Electronic program guide
  • Video on demand
  • Karaoke
  • Premium content
  • Shopping
  • My page

On a connected Car solution the user would expect to see:

  • Remote starting & keyless entry
  • Car diagnostics and EV management
  • Map POI and search integration
  • Voice navigation integration
  • Apps are upgradeable from the server, no need to go to the dealer
  • Ever expanding branded & white label content

For the ever-moving mobile users, this would mean that he is always connected with his family and friends, get all the content he seeks and at the same time gives the operator the control helping him reduce his churn and improve his ARPU by ensuring he has satisfied customers.

It is said that internet will drive mobile convergence with over 5 billion mobile phones and another 5 billion wireless devices by end of this year and wireless connectivity will be the primary factor driving the future of mobile internet. (for reference: Morgan Stanley's exhaustive report December 15 2009 mobile-internet-research-report/#axzz1UQ6BRY00)


What is even more interesting is that soon IPTV service providers will support multi-screen viewing across PCs, tablets, and smartphones as families are consuming larger amounts of content which include streamed high definition video on devices other than the traditional set top boxes. With teenagers hooked on to laptops and other slick portable screens for long periods socializing and interacting, viewing live content is the next natural step.

The convergence of screens would also give the service provider an entry into the space of digital advertising. This would not only help them deliver relevancy based content but also deliver advertisements to a large mobile subscribers base which would help in improving stickiness and reducing churn — in turn increasing ARPU.

Consumers would soon look at a single window for all these services and at a wireless home network that's transparent to them and one that streams video perfectly to every platform in their homes. It is good to see that service providers now understand needs of the consumer and the kind of data they are consuming at home.