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Video a failed application for 3G
In a discussion held today on global experience in managing the growth of 3G and BWA services, industry experts unanimously questioned success of video as an application for 3G service and identified mobile broadband as killer application for it.

“There have been two main pillars of 3G service namely mobile broadband and video. Globally, video is part of 3G service but there are lots of issues related to screen size and streaming quality of video on mobile devices. In various cases, we have seen mobile broadband as killer application where operators have gained,” said Dr Sumit Chowdhury, vice-president and partner, IBM Global Business Services while speaking at 6th Assocham Global Telecom Summit 2010.

He pointed out that India has only 7 per cent penetration of Internet and ranks 137 worldwide.

“Wireless is going to be a game changer in India. Globally the whole driver for 3G services is mobile data and there is a lot of opportunities for mobile broadband in India,” Chowdhury.

India at present has 91 million mobile Internet users and 1 million data card and USB modem user, as per data presented by Chowdhury.

He emphasized that since mobile broadband is a killer application, it presents opportunity for VAS players to launch enticing services for users.

Supporting Chowdhury’s view, Sethumadhavan Srinivasan, director, MKT, Huawei Telecommunications mentioned that 3G spectrum in India has been expensive and operators need to strategize to make revenue out of it.

“Mobile TV and video calls have taken off in global market. In the case of India also, it has to be looked at especially when operators have only 5 Mhz of 3G spectrum to start with,” said Srinivasan.

Srinivasan gave example of AT&T when its network was choked mainly because of video application when the company offered unlimited bandwidth usage at a flat fee.

Anuj Kapur, country manager, Telecordia Technologies added to this example of AT&T flat fee offer for unlimited download.

“AT&T’s bandwidth usage went up by 5000 times but they had revenue increase of only 250 per cent. People were downloading video stuffs from various sources,” said Kapur.

Kapur suggested that operators should carefully plan bandwidth management for various applications for 3G service.

“Solutions for optimal management of bandwidth are available. Operators should deploy those solutions for efficient use of spectrum,” said Kapur.

Sangeet Chowfla, chief strategy officer, Comviva India, pointed out that in coming days whole industry is going to see a paradigm shift.

“Value added services offering will change from entertainment-based to utility-based. We have already started such deployments in various countries. In Bangladesh, people are using application on mobile to pay their utility bills. In some countries, there are pre-paid power meters, ” he added.

Chowfla reiterated that people use their mobile phone to recharge their electricity meter when the power goes off because of depletion of amount in their meter account.

Nivedan Shahani, vice-president, Tata Teleservices, mentioned that voice in coming days will become a free application and operators will have to depend on VAS service for revenue.

“Our subscriber base grows approximately 30 per cent every quarter but average revenue per user is dipping by 8 per cent quarter-on-quarter.”

He also added that the competition is gearing up, they would expect voice calls to be free after a decade. Therefore they need to launch more and more VAS for generating revenue.

Sahani pointed out that there is need to develop applications to gel with government-to-citizen services that are being offered by the government and applications that can help user on day-to-day basis.

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