The Final Frontier: mobile and the connected TV

What can mobile offer the connected TV arena?

The platform ecosystem for consumer entertainment is shifting, and mobile is becoming a core part of those experiences. Television and mobile have long been considered as separate independent industries, but this is all about to change. The television is now the final frontier for the mobile industry. The operating system players – Apple, Google and Microsoft in particular – are investing significant R&D dollars in developing solutions that can carry their platforms across to the main screen in the living room. They are incredibly well placed to do it, leveraging their significant global scale and rapid innovation cycles to bring new functionality to the TV screen. And they will use their position of strength in mobile as the “way in”, either by licencing technologies such as Airplay and Smart Glass to TV manufacturers, or more likely by convincing consumers to buy an inexpensive box (gateway) to plug into your TV HDMI.

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Day 2, European Spectrum Management Conference: We need a balanced debate on the future of UHF spectrum

Day 2, The 7th Annual European Spectrum Management Conference, Brussels

My post yesterday focused on the weight of political and regulatory support at a European level for the reallocation of the 700MHz band to mobile, which might suggest the WRC 2015 debate is practically a “done deal”. So what now for the broadcast and mobile industries?

During the second day of the European Spectrum Management Conference in Brussels, I spoke to representatives from the ITU, European Commission, RSPG and Broadcast Networks Europe and I was struck by the lack of coordination between the mobile and television communities when debating spectrum issues. To their credit, the mobile industry has already done a lot of thinking on the 700MHz opportunity, but neither the Commission nor the ITU tried to suggest that the broadcast community has yet been properly consulted. Broadcasters on the other hand have been slow to react to the WRC’12 announcement, and they are now short on time to form a consensus view ahead of the fast approaching July meeting of the Joint Task Group.

We desperately need a balanced debate participated in by both the mobile and broadcast communities before decisions are taken that inadvertently harm the future of either industry. We are impacting the future of two important industries to the European economy and these issues should not be taken lightly.

I’d like to ask some fundamental questions:

  • Have we fully understood the the future network capacity requirements of both the mobile and broadcast sectors?
  • Have we thought through the full range of available options to increase network capacity before defaulting to radio spectrum?
  • Is it possible for mobile and broadcast to co-exist in the UHF band?

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Day 1, European Spectrum Management Conference: Mobile drives in to the 700MHz band

Day 1, The 7th Annual European Spectrum Management Conference, Brussels

Radio spectrum is the life blood of a wide range of industries competing for access, and the debate between mobile and terrestrial TV has been particularly fierce. The announcement at the World Radio Conference 2012 (WRC) that the 700MHz band is to be allocated to mobile from 2015 has caught many European broadcasters off guard. The removal of 700MHz from broadcasting, equivalent to one third of terrestrial SD channels, threatens the future of a terrestrial platform that for many countries has been the driver of their content and advertising industries, delivering significant economic and cultural value and the mechanism of choice to achieve key public policy objectives.

But the mobile industry’s thirst for new spectrum is unrelenting, driven by unprecedented consumer demand for mobile data services. The European Commission has set a target of identifying 1200MHz of new spectrum for mobile by 2015. The sub-1 GHz bands currently allocated to TV offer attractive technical properties that operators argue will deliver a better quality of service for consumers at significantly lower cost. It is also clear that mobile is a major source of future innovation across many industries, including content, and it would be wrong to inadvertently stifle these opportunities.

So should 700MHz go to mobile? Although no decision will officially be made until WRC 2015, presentations made yesterday during the first day of the European Spectrum Management Conference points to an overwhelming weight of support at a European level forcing through approval.

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Facebook smartphone rumours

Quote

“Mark is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms”, Facebook employee speaking to the New York Times, 27th May 2012

Following up on an earlier post in February where I commented on Bret Taylor’s speech at MWC about standardising the mobile web, it seems that Facebook is indeed setting itself on a path to developing a mobile OS. It makes a lot of commercial sense…

For the consumer, Facebook offers a platform that is truly social and fits ideally with a personal communications device like a smartphone.

For Facebook itself, control of the platform is becoming an increasing priority as Google and Microsoft position to extend their operating systems in to the TV space, creating the first multi-device platform for app creators and consumers across all 4 screens (mobile, tablet, web and TV).

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Could Facebook be the first social operating system?

Listening to Bret Taylor, Facebook’s CTO speaking at Mobile World Congress yesterday, something struck me that the post-event reaction seems to have overlooked. Could Facebook be planning an operating system for mobile?

Facebook and mobile have enjoyed a harmonious relationship:  over 50% of Facebook’s 845 million users worldwide access the service through their mobile phone, and in developing countries these numbers are even more astounding. As reported by TechCrunch, 90% of Nigerian users access Facebook on their mobile devices and 30% of Indian users have set up new accounts via the mobile.

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