Shifting from traditional TV to media content over mobile broadband
The worldwide market penetration of smartphone subscriptions was around 3.2 billion at the end of year 2015. Subsequently, consumers of mobile broadband services in many countries expect to have access to media content and personal data stored in the cloud, including comprehensive music collections, personal pictures and videos as well as on-demand video programs. Virtually unlimited media content is available while at home, at places of work, when commuting by car or by public transportation, on vacation, typically anywhere, anytime.
The days when families shared a common single user equipment (UE) device, the living room television set for example, are now long gone; new music and video delivery platforms are changing the whole media experience by offering advanced and easy-to-use media services. Media companies provide qualified music or video content suggestions to their consumers based on individual preferences and behaviour enabling the use and sharing of personal play lists. Consumers have access to media content from companies such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify and few would deny the attractiveness of these offerings and the impact on consumers’ behaviour. Smartphone devices with high resolution screens and high quality earphones and headphones are driving a high level user experience while revolutionizing consumption behaviour.
Measurements in a selected number of commercial mobile broadband networks in Asia, Europe and the Americas show that, regardless of device type, video is the largest contributor to traffic volumes. YouTube usually dominates video traffic and accounts for 40 % to 55 % share in overall traffic volume in most mobile networks and for 50 % to 70 % of overall video traffic in almost all measured networks, regardless of terminal type. In markets where Netflix has launched services, its share can reach 10 % to 20 % of total mobile video traffic.
The content provided by these new media companies is made available for different end user devices including smartphones and tablets. These mobile devices become always connected and media companies are able to stay in touch with and support the needs of consumers of all ages to provide ever more personalized services and targeted entertainment – and of course advertising.
Studies are tracking the total time spent on watching television and video content. Teenagers for instance are increasing the time spent watching video content, (roughly as much time as other age groups), while their device preference is gradually shifting from the traditional television set to smartphones. This shift towards smart devices can be observed across all age groups although it is most clearly apparent with teenagers. Between 2011 and 2015 teenagers increased their “web-television” and video consumption on smartphones by 85 % and nearly halved their time spent viewing on a traditional television set. Older generations are slower to change. For example, 30 to 35-year-olds spent 4 hours more than teenagers in front of the traditional television set in 2011 and still did so in 2015.
To meet the new media trends described above, work on solutions has been concentrated on finding more spectrum for mobile broadband networks in the so-called TV UHF band (470 – 694/698 MHz). Initially the focus has been on the 700 MHz frequency band (694/698 – 790 MHz), now identified for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) globally for LTE technology. Various countries and regions globally are now looking towards the future and more efficient utilization of the 470 – 694/698 MHz frequency range. While accounting for local circumstances, administrations together with telecom and media ecosystem stakeholders are looking at the options to find additional suitable spectrum for mobile broadband in this range. Step-by-step approaches are being considered to ensure that frequencies between 470 – 694/698 MHz can still be used for terrestrial television while gradually being phased out – at a pace that follows the fading interest from “traditional television” viewers.
 Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2016, https://www.ericsson.com/res/docs/2016/ericsson-mobility-report-2016.pdf
 Measurements do not include Wi-Fi traffic
 Source: Ericsson ConsumerLab, TV and Media (2011, 2015)
This blog is written by the GSA Spectrum Group. If you have any comments or questions please email email@example.com.