The second session of the morning was Mobile TV & Video: Moving pictures. It’s interesting to see the EU perspective, as I’ve just come from Hong Kong where at least one high quality, ubiquitously accessible mobile TV service – based on 3G video calling – has been up and running at Hong Kong CSL for many months. Asia also hosts a variety of interactive video response services based on 3G video calling.
Key take away for Mobile TV in Europe – it’s very early days. Indeed, it may be 2012 before we see widespread use of mobile TV, before the spectrum needed for video broadcast, e.g.DVB-H, DVB-T, etc., has been cleared and efficient broadcast to mobiles is working. Multiple speakers pointed out the problems with today’s services based on video over packet services – QoS problems, outrageous packet data charges, codec/handset incompatibilities, DRM issues.
The breakthrough solution being promoted by Jeremy Flynn of D2See and by Mark Fitzgerald of MXTelecom, is 3G video calling. Of course, this is what’s already running in Asia, supporting my view that hot new mobile applications almost always start in Asia, emerge in the EU 12–18 months later and then make their way to the US eventually.
It’s true, 3G video calling has been a flop as a person-to-person video calling service. When it is used at all, it’s used for see-what-I-see purposes, i.e. two way audio and one-way video – “Look Grandma, the baby has learned to walk.”
But used as a means of delivering video content or receiving user created video content, 3G video calling is ideal. You can make the connection in seconds. Once connected, the video quality is constant (as it’s running over a 64 kbps circuit-switched data connection). It’s inherently streamed without local storage, so no DRM issues. And all 3G handsets have an inter-operable 3G video calling client built in.