With growth in data consumption being driven by demand for video, which will increasingly be viewed on mobile devices, there is an opportunity for savvy operators to usher in a renaissance for mobile TV. However, not many of them appear to be in a hurry.
"MNOs are the slowest to move even though they have the greatest need [for video services]," John Thomas, vice president of mobile technology at component maker Rambus, told Total Telecom ahead of Mobile World Congress.
"Verizon is making very large investments in LTE broadcast networks and CDNs, and Japanese carriers have combined their content offerings," he conceded, "so it might move a little faster there".
Rambus, which offers a varied array of products from memory chips to LEDs, announced its entry into the video market at CES in January with the launch of its media platform.
Called Imerz, it enables real-time video sharing between different devices such as TVs, tablets and smartphones, search, and also instant sharing of video to social networks. Rambus can even give content owners the ability to tag elements within a frame of video – like an item of clothing worn by an actress – and embed it with an interactive call to action. In the case of product placement, it could be a link to an online store selling that particular product, for example.
The company has also developed a combined WiFi and cellular dongle that plugs into a TV's HDMI socket, enabling it to connect to the Internet and back to Imerz, meaning consumers don't need to own a smart TV to share content between their various devices and their TV.
Thomas said he is seeing interest from three types of customer: content owners looking for ways to reach audiences; video-hosting companies looking to offer interactive, multi-screen services; and MNOs. That last category, he said, is taking its time.
A number of factors could account for the lack of urgency from operators, he said, such as the need for them to ensure they can cost-effectively scale a service for their millions of customers before rolling it out. There are also several routes to securing content rights