Technology Challenges: SDTV versus HDTV
Not all the available set-top boxes in India are scalable from standard definition to high definition technology. Most of the IPTV or DTH set-top boxes are just meant for SDTV. Customer has the choice to choose HD compatible set-top box and pay much more for it. In addition he needs to have high definition LCD, plasma TV, etc.
Also one of the reasons why not many players are aggressively looking to promote IPTV services is because currently in India, TV program producers are not making programs in HD TV format.
The price drop in HDTV in India expected, as DishTV, Reliance BIG TV and Tata Sky satellite TV channel providers are having plan to start HDTV channels.
Experts say the push to HD TV has been prompted by the government’s decision that the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be broadcast only in high-definition. As a result, Doordarshan is also expected to launch HDTV on an experimental basis, has stated it will produce content for the Commonwealth in this format.
Sun Direct (DTH) is the only player either in DTH or IPTV or digital cable areas who is providing ‘Sun Direct HD’ which provides high definition broadcast service on the DTH platform in India. It provides two HD channel in India, both are movie channel and regional languages (Tamil and Telugu).
Technology Challenges: Network and Bandwidth
Challenges like robustness and scalability of IPTV technology. Choice of middleware platforms and video server architectures, changes in bandwidth requirements and availability and interoperability among enabling technology products are the key challenges to effectively delivering high-quality video services. The market is in its infancy and the more established commercial rollouts attracting limited take up. Growth of over-the-top (OTT) video consumption poses a particular challenge to the growth of IPTV, which shares many functional attributes with Internet video-such as time shifting, interactivity and on-demand program scheduling-but which currently still relies primarily on a subscription based revenue model.
Basic deployment challenges are classified as network issues like bandwidth drop offs that have a direct effect on video quality due to copper usage , operational issues like frequently updating routing tables, bandwidth issues and network management concerns and in home issues like wiring, interference, additional CPE requirements ,post installation requirement and multi-room DVR and HDTV requirement.
Pricing in India
Indian market is extremely sensitive to price and to succeed stakeholders will have to carefully price their services to win in a competitive environment. Currently, IPTV packages are aggressively priced. In fact some of the packages are at par with prices of DTH packages. However, cost of set top boxes are extremely high and needs to come down drastically to attract more subscribers. This can be the potential make or break for success of IPTV in the Indian market. The Indian market offers a great opportunity for set top box manufacturers for a long term growth. These manufacturers can look at innovative design models with low cost manufacturing capabilities to support mass demand from the Indian market. Companies would have to draw inspiration from mobile/handset manufacturers like Nokia, LG, Samsung, etc, who churned out low cost customized devices targeted at the Indian market. Globally companies are trying to integrate HDTV with a built-in set top box which acts as a multi compatible device that can support cable, DTH, and IPTV. The next wave of development in highly competitive markets like India and China might bring global innovation for IPTV.
The IPTV Value Chain
India’s first IPTV deployment was in 2006, when MTNL rolled out its IPTV service in Mumbai followed by BSNL. Other major players like Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications were given the go ahead to launch their IPTV services in the Indian market in February 2008 by Trai. Airtel has launched its service in January 2009, while Reliance has launched their services in Mumbai.
However, India still has a long way to go before IPTV can pick up momentum like wireless communication or DTH services. India has a lot of problems that exists as a barrier for growth of IPTV in India.
Some of the key issues in IPTV implementation in India are:
Physical infrastructure: One of the biggest challenges India faces is the required infrastructure for growth of IPTV. India lacks the required high-speed wiring and copper cables and is still dependent on copper or coaxial cables for deployment of IPTV network. Some parts of the world have successfully shifted to optic fiber for deploying high quality IPTV services.
Broadband penetration: One of the biggest and most important factor for success of IPTV in any country is its infrastructure for broadband services and broadband penetration. India’s broadband penetration is one of the lowest in the world and the success of IPTV is directly dependant on broadband penetration. India’s broadband penetration rate is 2% (rate of Internet penetration of the total households). Although, it is expected to pick up pace in the coming years, advanced technologies like VDSL, WiMax or LTE can save the day for IPTV in India.
Network capability: IPTV requires at least 1.5 Mbps line (with MPEG-4) for basic services at a good QoS and 8 Mbps line (with MPEG-4) for HDTV services. Some part of the broadband networks, especially MTNL and BSNL networks are not ready yet. Most of the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, etc, are SDTV compatible this is largely due BSNL and MNTL network and these are the cities where BSNL and MTNL first launched its IPTV in India. Quality of service: India lacks the required infrastructure to support IPTV. Current subscribers have criticized the QoS offered by these companies.
Content readiness and cost: Content is critical for success of IPTV and to compete with DTH and cable operators IPTV service providers will have to provide high quality innovative content. With respect to content there are various costs which are involved and it totally depends on what route does the player take. It can be either fixed fee deal with broadcaster or Ala carte price per channel. Operators will have to offer services that are not being already provided by their competitor including live TV, video on demand (VOD) and digital video recorders (DVRs).
Cost of service for user: The cost of IPTV services offered are quite competitive but the cost of IPTV STBS is still very high. Cost of IPTV STBS will have to fall further, as they are more expensive than traditional DTH or Cable set top boxes
Regulatory framework: Some of the potential regulatory issues identified includes advertising: targeted advertising and advertisement less content delivery to allow next generation business models; time shifted TV: legal framework to support content storage, redistribution and super-distribution (for example, access from multiple devices); privacy: protect privacy of user content (with consideration for lawful intercept); piracy: provide a framework for detection and prosecution. Alternate models: watermarking, crawling, etc ; multimedia communications: triple play, voice, video and data regulations; and content classification: larger scale production.
IPTV ecosystem: IPTV infrastructure is not at par or as required for areas like broadband/transport infrastructure and technology, favorable regulations, customer understanding of product proposition, content readiness and cost, unified standards development and pricing and promotions
IPTV on Global Stage
From its first deployments in 1999, IPTV has grown in strength, quality and numbers over the ten years of its existence. The estimated subscriber base was 23mn in 2008 which grew to 26.7 mn by 2009 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 32% to 81mn by the end of 2013. In terms of service revenue, global IPTV market is $6.7 bn in 2009 and is expected to grow to $19.9 bn by 2013 as per industry estimates. Globally, there are around 120 IPTV service providers in over sixty countries, with Europe and the far eastern markets taking the top spots. Currently, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, and Belgium are leading the pack in terms of IPTV penetration. By 2013, Europe and North America will generate a larger share of global revenue, due to low ARPUs in China and India, the fastest growing markets (and the biggest) in Asia.
Major developments over the last few years has led to IPTV foray into Asian countries. These include:
• Deployment of IPTV services over ADSL access on telephone wire or without internet/broadband connection
• Another major milestone for IPTV was approval of a new ITU standard that supports global rollout of IPTV services which would encourage many global IPTV service providers to look at the Indian market either to provide services directly or the cable operator route.
Globally, cable operators abroad are starting to deliver IPTV services over Docsis 3.0, a CableLabs platform that bursts data in excess of 100 Mbit/s.
The Indian IPTV Market
Indian IPTV market is at a nascent stage where it is being deployed over DSL, ADSL and ADSL2+ network infrastructure owned by operators like BSNL, MTNL, and Airtel. Interestingly state owned companies are aggressively promoting IPTV while private players (Airtel and Reliance) have kept a low profile. Recently BSNL and MTNL along with Smart Digivision (official franchisee for IPTV) announced ‘MyWay’ that will be launched in over fifty-four cities, the largest IPTV launch in the country. Smart Digivision plans to offer IPTV services to 1.6-1.7 mn broadband subscribers of BSNL and MTNL in these selected cities which comprise 80% of the country’s broadband subscriber base. Private players believe DTH is for masses and IPTV is for the classes. However, in the long run IPTV can become an ARPU driver.
The scenario for IPTV market in India is driven by certain factors like interactivity, value added services, customer end benefits, and fueling broadband demand. India still has a long way to go before IPTV can pick up momentum like wireless communication or DTH services. India has a lot of problems that exists as a barrier for growth of IPTV in India.
India is not only a potential market for IPTV, but can also become a hub for innovation and the next technological breakthrough in global IPTV market as is clearly evident from the amount of interest shown by biggies like Cisco, UTStarcom, CopperGate.
The first “desi” Application store, Airtel’s App Central is live. Consistent with Apps Stores world over, App Central is an open platform for developers to create apps for any and all handsets and operating systems. While there is the Apple iTunes, Nokia’s Ovi Store and Blackberry’s App world, Airtel’s Apps Central is unique in its being platform independent irrespective of handset or OS. The App Central is a cross platform offering that will even work on ultra budget handsets that run on the JAVA OS.
There are still quite a few websites third party websites that allow content download for all mobile operating systems but the App Central is far more convenient. The system is designed to recognize the operating system and showcase apps that are appropriate for the same. For a start, the App Central features 1250 applications across 25 categories available for download on more than 550 compatible devices.Applications are available for as low as Rs. 5 and go upwards of Rs. 25. Airtel expects vernacular content to contribute 20-25% of the downloads and vernacular content would be one of its biggest differentiators against the iTune, Ovi and others.
App Central also stores all the applications a user has downloaded in a section called “My Purchases”. This makes it very convenient to change handsets. The user would simply go to the My Purchase section at the bottom of the page and download and install apps. This reduces the time of having to look for them all over again. If apps have been previously paid, there’s no additional charge for downloading it again. Airtel is also working on a downloadable version of App Central to do away with the need to access it through a web browser.
Mobile application creators have been invited by the Airtel to submit their applications at this developer platform and CellMania will be powering the entire back end – right from the applications submitted by the developers to the AppCentral storefront.Developers registering with CellMania’s platform can expect to receive 28 percent of revenue share of the total sales of the application.
Bottomline: Even though Airtel App Central may not be at par with some of the OEM’s stores just yet, it will be, given time. It will also be interesting to see how vernacular mobile content performs. An interesting move by Airtel and we shall be watching the progress of the App central through the days and months to come.
Of 4G deliberations and its implications on the current 3G spectrum auction
The much awaited 3G spectrum auction which has been delayed atleast 6-7 times in the past has found a new date: 9th April 2010 is when the government intends to carry out the 3G spectrum.
Even with the mess that 3G is, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued a pre-consultation paper to deliberate on 4G early this month. TRAI’s move to leapfrog to 4G or LTE technology comes in the wake of the government dithering over 3G policy, that has been delayed by more than three years. While accepting the “Bad” delay in 3G auctions, TRAI has branded this move as timely and preemptive to deal with issues, discussions and policies that would ensure a uniform and timely roll out of 4G.4G is a serious advantage to the bandwidth starved users of the country, as it provides 10 times faster internet speed than 3G and has support for live Hi-Def TV content.
This declaration undermines the feasibility of 3G and investments planned there-of. 3G viability now depends upon what time frame is TRAI working upon. 3G already is delayed by 3 years after the initial auction date and 10 years in terms of technology. Even if 4G moves on fast track, it would take anywhere near 2.5/3 years for it to see the light of the day. With 4400 crores/per vendor at stake on 3G, it is difficult to fathom why would any Telecom Operator waste money and time on implementing the 10 year old 3G technology and rather not jump into the 4G bandwagon. That would seriously impede the 3G deployments in the country.
The best case solution is 3G being implemented as a mass vehicle to enable broadband to the nation and 4G is used as the premium data service. The financial ROI of 4G would then be a derivative of the licensing costs. It is also possible that to have inclusive participation from all vendors, if the government offers subsidy over 4G spectrum to players who have bought into the 3G spectrum. That would then enable smooth transitions into both these technologies and co-existence.
The monies from the 3G spectrum and the 4G spectrum is seen as a big contributor to the government for closing the fiscal deficit. Last year, the base price of the 3G spectrum was increased two fold from Rs.2200 crore to Rs.4400 crore. The implementation of 4G will depend on timing it versus the 3G and the cost of licenses. If 3G and 4G implementations are not spaced amply, 3G may not provide suitable returns on Investments and TRAI may have to make subsidies to involve 3G players in the 4G space. A sufficiently long gap may hamper the case of growth powered by broadband reach through the country.
Mastercard is introducing a Mobile Payments Gateway that delivers end-to-end mobile payment solutions. This is a milestone feat for m-Commerce. It will be much easier to send and receive money through the mobile device than it’s occurs currently and it will boost initiatives due to technologies like these. Anyone within the payment cycle can build quick and cost-effective customized mobile solutions which all will serve to offer a convenient and secure -mobile- payment process.
Mobile Payments/M-Commerce are heralded as the next growth frontier for Mobiles. M-PESA in Kenya has set examples enabling people to have their first banking accounts on their handheld phones. Juniper estimates the opportunity at $860 billion generated made by close to 450 million consumers with 285 billion transactions by 2013. Money Transfer is expected to generate more than $200 billion in 2013. The ticketing segment will be driven by consumer usage on rail, air and bus networks as well as sports and entertainment events This will represent over 40% of the global transaction value by 2013. In 2008, only 67 million mobile phone users accessed mBanking services, whereas in 2013 the figure could reach one billion.
Last year, <a href="“>VISA had demonstrated a NFC led mobile point of sale payment in a pilot at Malaysia spearheaded by Maxis, Nokia, Maybank under the aegis of VISA.
“The Mobile Payments Gateway will help to make mobile payments a way of life for mobile phone users around the world,” said Joshua Peirez, group executive of Innovative Platforms for MasterCard Worldwide. “Through our global, integrated payment network we are efficiently connecting financial institutions, merchants and consumers together to mobilize MasterCard payment solutions in a way that truly reflects today’s on-the-go lifestyles.”
Vivo, the largest mobile operator in Brazil along with Itaú Unibanco and Redecard will be the first ones to partner up with the gateway. Mastercard will introduce its Mobile payments solutions in select markets around the world. Adoption, usage and diffusion are important for a further development of Mobile Commerce and Marketing.
A quick Stat showing the obvious acceptance of Mobile payments as a technology to be higher within the younger agen individuals in US. The obvious inference is to catch the customers young. The Mobile payments technology has to be pivoted around the young adults. It would be interesting to see the acceptability of M-payments across the SEC categorizations.
We want to have a little bit of Google in everybody’s transaction with the Internet
ERIC SCHMIDT, CEO, GOOGLE
Speaking at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt urged the mobile industry not to block opportunities offered by the mobile Web and said Google and telecoms carriers could have a symbiotic relationship. Google has raised hackles in the industry by launching a smartphone platform — Android — selling its own-branded phone directly to consumers without the mediation of carriers, and announcing plans to build a super-fast broadband network. It has also been seen as a problem by some operators, which are having to invest and upgrade their networks to meet the huge demand for data services required by users spending time on the mobile Internet and sites from search leader Google and others. Eric urged that the surge in data services had to be viewed more constructively in terms of revenue opportunities.
Given Google’s increased focus on smartphone-data services it is not unusual that “Mobile First” is being put as primary focus of the company. The latest acquisition in that space, AdMob, is a result of this new strategy. The signs are there, smartphone sales are growing at a 30% year-over-year rate, which will eventually surpass the personal computer sales.Even more important, the adoption of the Mobile Web is growing annually eight times faster than the Web adoption did a decade ago. In countries like Indonesia and South Africa more searches are done via the mobile Web than via the desktop, it simply cannot be ignored.
Three areas are coming together on the mobile device, namely the Cloud, computing power and interconnectivity. All these three areas converge in the mobile device, making it a most powerful device where strategies need to be developed in order to thrive or at least, survive.
Check this Slideshare Presentation which is a simple, easy and interesting note on Google’s Mobile Strategy.
Google Wave- An Iconic change or an overhyped Indifference???
In an overview of Google Wave, Dr Lars Rasmussen, founder of Google Maps and the brains behind the Google Wave likens it to the re-invention of traditional email. Quoting Lars:
“… (email was) a system that was invented some 40 years ago long before the world wide web as we know it. Email simply mimics snail mail, while instant messaging is a text version of a phone call. Things have got rather more sophisticated since then, with blogs, wikis and bulletin boards among the many other ways of communicating.”Google positions the wave as a real time communication and collaboration tool.
The working mechanism revolves entirely in and around the browser, using HTML 5 code and works in Chrome, Safari and Firefox and not in Opera and in the Internet Explorer it works only if using the Chrome environ. Following the invitation leads you to wave.google.com, where you sign into your Google account as normal. What you get is an email like prototype. Folders in the navigation bars let you organize your “waves”, with the inbox. Beneath this are lined up the contacts and one the right is the list of Waves, pretty similar to email clients like Outlook. You can create a wave by clicking on the “New Wave” and typing into a box that appears thereafter. A formatting tool helps basic changes and edits. What different is the contacts that get loaded at the same time. As you type your contact name it appears as a moving cursor , so you can see who is writing what.
Real Time: You can see what someone else is typing, character by character.
Embeddability: Waves can be embedded on any blog or website.
Applications and Extensions: Similar to Facebook or iGoogle, developers can build their own apps within the Wave. It could range from anything from Bots to Complex Real Time Games.
Wiki Functionality: Anything written within a Wave can be edited by someone else because all conversations within the platform are shared. Thus one is able to correct information, append information and add own commentary within a developing conversation.
Open Source: The Google Wave is open Source and aims at nurturing innovation and adoption for all developers
Playback: Just like a video playback, any part of the wave can be reviewed to see what was said in the conversation.
Natural Language: Translates on the fly, autocorrects spellings, clarifies grammatical nuances and more.
Drag and Drop File sharing: No Attachments required as one can drag and drop files inside the Wave for everyone to have access.