Telecommunications, Automotive and Market Research

More than 15 years in the mobile telecommunications industry and an industry analyst since 1998.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Other Mobile Video Network

I erroneously left out an important mobile video delivery network not only in my blog posts but in my thinking as well: Wi-Fi.  A recent report from Rhythm New Media (.pdf), a firm that provides mobile video advertising to smartphones, finds that, overall, 53% of video delivered to phones was over the 3G network, with the remainder via Wi-Fi.  It's significant that nearly half the high-bandwidth streaming content does not come over the wide area public networks but, rather over smaller, faster, and (most likely) more reliable systems.

Rhythm New Media also indicates there is a spike in Wi-Fi usage at about 10pm, so I think it's fairly safe to assume people are using these devices at home rather than at coffee shop hotspots.

In some ways, this is almost identical to households having both a cellular and landline telephone.  There's a great deal of value in the convenience in mobility, but there are also times when the lower cost, more reliable, better quality connection is preferable when mobility isn't required

(Yes, yes, I know many people in the mobile world would argue vehemently with the suggestion that landlines are better quality and more reliable than cellular... I wouldn't disagree with them, either. Let's not consider this from the perspective of the mature cellular networks of 2010 but, perhaps, those of 1995, when mobile voice networks were just getting established and traffic was starting to build.  That's probably a better analogy to the heavy data loads on 3G networks today and, from that perspective, the landline vs. cellular analogy makes more sense)

If there's a single message that can be gleaned from Rhythm New Media's data on Wi-Fi it is that consumers prefer a clean, uninterrupted video stream, which today's 3G networks can't necessarily provide at peak hours.  It also suggests consumers know the value of offloading their data traffic from 3G to an alternative, which could also bode well for in-home femtocells.

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