Feb 06, 2013 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Video services will become more prominent on mobile networks when operators roll out their full commercial third-generation (3G) networks on the new international-standard frequency.
Video looks set to become a viable alternative to voice and text, as well as for using entertainment and information services, as mobile consumers expect to view the same content to which they have become accustomed on other devices. However, video is an extremely data-heavy activity and burdens the network infrastructure.
Services will cover video telephony, video messaging, video sharing, video-on-demand consumption, with other services such as video chatting and dating expected to follow.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index forecasts that global mobile video data traffic will increase by 25 times from 2011-16, making up about 70% of mobile data traffic.
Gartner, a global research firm, predicts global mobile data traffic will grow by 14 times over the next five years, fuelled mainly by video services.
Pakorn Pannachet, senior vice-president of Total Access Communication (DTAC), said the company is partnering Dreambase Interactive to promote the watchever application, which provides popular movies, copyrighted series and free TV channels on DTAC mobile phones.
The company has 29 TV programmes for free and pay services, with the number expected to rise to 40 by the end of this year.
DTAC plans to spend 10 million baht promoting the service this year.
Mr Pakorn said DTAC charges small fees for the application's services to stimulate customers using copyrighted products and to protect copyright holders.
DTAC now has six million smartphone users, of whom 75% have signed up for data services. "The figure is targeted to reach 90% this year," he said.
Mr Pakorn said DTAC expects its data service revenue to surge by at least 50% this year. Video traffic should increase by 2-3 times when the 3G-2.1 MHz full commercial service begins.
He said video, music and social networking will be the top three services over the next two years, while games will be another high growth area.
Pratthana Leelapanang, acting senior vice-president for digital services at Advanced Info Service, said the company is looking to expand its AIS Movie Store to produce more varied content serving customer requirements and to increase its mobile data revenue stream. It will coordinate with Sahamongkol Film and GTH.
He said the arrival of 3G will be a starting point for Thailand's movie industry, shifting to streaming and downloaded content platforms instead of DVD rental.
"The country's mobile video traffic is set to grow almost two times this year, making up to 30% of mobile data traffic," Mr Pratthana said.
Video traffic accounts for half of mobile traffic in the Asia-Pacific region, while the figure is 70% in the US.
Kirana Cheewachuen, assistant director for wireless content and applications for mobile business of True Corporation, agreed that video will become the key growth driver for mobile data traffic, seeing growth of 200% in Thailand this year.
"Smartphones are gaining popularity among Thai people, especially teenagers using them to watch video," she said.
Average mobile data consumption is 2 gigabytes per month for mobile video users, Ms Kirana added.
Movies, video clips, the AF reality show and soap operas are the most popular video content.
As of Dec 31, True had three million 3G customers using the TrueMove H service. The company expects the number of 3G users to double this year, with an additional 1.8 million data users joining its 2G network.
"The biggest opportunity for mobile operators is mobile entertainment services to grow their subscriber base with attractive content," said Shiv Putcha, a principal analyst at Ovum.
Mobile devices will be the primary screen for entertainment, particularly in emerging markets, because of the high cost of PCs, fixed broadband and game consoles.
However, Mr Putcha believes mobile operators will face monetisation hurdles due to piracy and low ability to pay.
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