Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On the ground: Streaming video for high speed networks

Sprint announced along with Cox, Comcast and Time Warner, that they will invest in a $200 million dollars project to bring video content to their customers, including their upcoming EVDO high speed network. This is just the latest announcement in a series of streaming video offerings from various providers. For several years now companies have been setting up deals and new ventures to bring streaming content to the mobile place, like the well known MobiTV. It seems everyone is pushing live video, streaming clips and TV channels to cell phones. But who really wants to watch TV on their cell phones? Why are all the providers pushing this technology?

The answer is simple. All the providers are building high speed, next generation networks. EV-DO for Sprint and Bell, and UMTS for Cingular and Rogers, with more following. The fact is most cell phone users do not need these high speed networks. Voice calls certainly don't need it. Even casual data users can download from the existing networks at a very acceptable rate of about 2-3 minutes for a MP3 song. While the market for mobile television may be pretty damn small, at least for now, streaming content is the best thing to show off the speed of your network. To get high quality video, you need broadband. So the plan is to offer a service compelling enough that users will want it, and want the quality of these next generation networks. After all, no provider wants to be left behind with an 'older' network while everyone else is using new technology, and these deployments cost several million dollars, so they have to get people onboard somehow.

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