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Network Operators are Preparing for Mobile Video

Two technologies that are positioned to help mobile network operators (MNOs) cope with growing volumes of video traffic will need to improve their market penetration over the next 12 months -- to ensure their place as long-term options for mobile offload, according to the latest market study by Heavy Reading.

"Athough only 9 percent of wireless customers are using their devices for video at any given time, that group is generating 38 percent of mobile data traffic," says Tim Kridel, research analyst with Heavy Reading.

To avoid running out of capacity -- and, more importantly, retain service profitability -- some vendors and MNOs are looking to offload up to 20 percent of video traffic using IMB, eMBMS or both.

Although eMBMS and IMB are best known for their video capabilities, it's a mistake to pigeonhole them in that role.

Kridel adds "Assuming that eMBMS, IMB or both ever become widely adopted, wireless carriers might be drawn to products that use those technologies instead of clogging up the main network."

And, even though HSPA and LTE enable faster connections and lower cost of delivery, by themselves they're not enough to ensure that carriers can deliver video services profitably. That reality is apparently driving the market demand for IMB and eMBMS.

Key findings from the latest market study include:
  • eMBMS and IMB could offload up to about 20 percent of video traffic.
  • IMB is relatively cheap: around $10,000 per site, or £30 million for half the U.K. population, and under $2 for device-side hardware.
  • Despite tests by blue-chip carriers, eMBMS and IMB are struggling for operator and vendor commitments.
  • IMB’s window of opportunity closes in mid-2012, some vendors and carriers say.
  • If eMBMS and IMB flop, it will be a boon for vendors offering compression and other solutions that don’t involve offload.
  • Although they’re designed for video offload, eMBMS and IMB can support other tasks, such as firmware and anti-malware updates.

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