Each year, Mobile World Congress offers key trends and themes that shape how global mobile operators address their infrastructure needs. At this year's show Feb. 27-March 1, three key market drivers undoubtedly will be topics of discussion among the halls at the Fira.
The "V" in VoLTE Also Stands for Video
We all know that mobile video consumption is growing. Industry analyst firm In-Stat forecasts that worldwide mobile video consumption will surpass 693 billion minutes by 2015. A recent Yahoo study found that mobile video consumption had grown 29 percent since 2010.
This growth is driven by mobile subscribers' increasing use of streaming video, emails, IM, web browsing, social networking, etc., along with fast-rising smartphone and tablet penetration around the world, especially in Asia.
Unfortunately, 3G and 3G+ technologies, such as UMTS, HSPA and EV-DO/A, just cannot keep up with the capacity demands of this mobile video growth and still sustain a profitable economic model for operators. Enter LTE technology and an all-IP, flat architecture; simplified network operations and the path to self-optimizing networks (SON) that it provides for mobile operators.
The dramatic increase in mobile video consumption is compelling operators to fast-track their LTE deployments to ensure a strong customer experience with their service, while continuing to maximize their 3G technology investments. As part of that acceleration of LTE, a critical component will be determining a network deployment model for mobile video and accompanying applications that balance CAPEX/OPEX investments with expected revenue generation.
Operators Jump on the Mobile Cloud Bandwagon in a Big Way
Driven by huge consumer adoption of tablets and smartphones, a fast-developing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend in business, and seemingly exponential growth in available apps, the mobile cloud will continue its rapid ascent as a top priority. As one point of reference, Juniper Research forecasts that the cloud-based mobile app market will surge to $9.5 billion by 2014.
We are already seeing over-the-top (OTT) players enter the market with new cloud-based apps that leverage advancements in network equipment and broadband connectivity to actualize mobile-cloud computing. As examples, Salesforce.com has launched a touchscreen version of its services for devices like the iPad and iPhone. Google Apps and Google Docs are available via mobile devices. And, of course, there are other new services such as Apple iCloud and Amazon Mobile.
What does this mean for global operators?
They will leverage their key assets (e.g., network, subscriber base, mobile number, and billing relationship) to enter the mobile-cloud services market in a large way and offer a compelling service experience that will be unparalleled by OTT players. In addition, operators will collaborate with OTT players by creating a platform for new application development with web APIs for new third-party applications (like Android apps) and user experiences (e.g., interactive IM and voice chat while playing games, such as Angry Birds). We may even see some operator-OTT collaboration announcements in Barcelona.
Mobile Entertainment Growth Presents Opportunity for RCS Adoption by Mobile Operators
According to a recent report by industry analyst firm MarketResearch.com, the global mobile entertainment market will grow at a 10.2-percent CAGR during 2010-2014, while research firm visiongain forecasts the global market value for mobile entertainment will top $69 billion by 2016. Strong smartphone adoption rates, growth in mobile internet usage and "seismic changes in the video games and music industries" are cited as the key drivers.
As mobile broadband access become available to consumers, mobile entertainment will continue its steady growth trajectory.
While the Far East and China – along with Western Europe – will be the primary markets of this growth, North America will become a very close third-ranked geography by 2015, according to Juniper Research. Growth in the U.S. will largely come from increased social networking where there has been a 56-percent increase in consumers accessing social media sites from their mobile device, according to comScore.
The opportunity for operators involves Rich Communications Ecosystem (RCE) and Social Networks Aggregation. RCE provides next-generation ubiquitous personal communications for "always on" mobile users to effortlessly access multimedia communications that enhance and expand personal mobile interactions. RCE will gain more momentum as operators launch globally interoperable, socially interactive services to build loyal mobile communities.
Social Networks Aggregation enables mobile operators to lower network costs by optimizing social network traffic, provide personalized delivery of social feeds to end users, manage contacts across various social networks, and expose a common set of operator-controlled APIs to accelerate differentiated services in the network and on operator-branded devices.
At Mobile World Congress 2012, look for mobile operators to discuss larger-scale adoption of RCE services to meet the customer demand for mobile entertainment and – more specifically – widespread growth in social networking. RCE will prove instrumental in ensuring that mobile operators can insert themselves into the mobile entertainment value chain.
Pardeep Kohli is president and CEO of Mavenir Systems.