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Wi-Fi to bring mobile TV to the masses

Fears that 3G networks will not be able to cope with an expected upsurge in demand for mobile video applications should be alleviated by widespread adoption of Wi-Fi says market analyst Juniper Research in a new report.

Even though it warns that streamed services will still need further capacity relief as support for dedicated mobile broadcast networks fades, the technology analyst expresses confidence that technology will ease 3G network congestion.

Furthermore Juniper believes that a surge in applications which can take advantage of the increasing availability of free Wi-Fi services will give mobile TV a huge boost and anticipates that it will drive revenues to nearly $7 billion by 2015.

According to ‘Mobile TV: Applications, Services & Opportunities 2010-2015', mobile TV traffic over Wi-Fi networks will increase by 25x over the 2010-2015 period as streamed service penetration and usage levels - also fuelled by consumer smartphone adoption - rise sharply.

Explained report author Dr Windsor Holden, "cellular networks are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver high quality mobile TV services at times of peak usage: thus, the World Cup has posed particular problems with large spikes in viewing figures. Wi-Fi can ameliorate this in the short term, but this is only a partial remedy."

The report also suggests that even though the imminent deployment of LTE networks should reduce congestion, the use of unpaired spectrum - as in the forthcoming IMB trials by Vodafone, Orange and O2 - might be an alternative or complementary solution.

However, Juniper is less convinced about the success of dedicated mobile broadcast technologies such as DVB-H. For this it cites the availability of handsets capable of receiving analogue or digital terrestrial signals, the economic downturn and changing consumer viewing habits as the potential gating factors for the development of DVB-H networks. In fact, Juniper suggests that these are among the reasons why DVB-H networks are widely perceived as being financially unviable.

A free Juniper white paper exploring the changing mobile TV landscape, ‘Tuning in to Mobile TV' is available to download.

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