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The new normal has imposed new trends that existed long before the coronavirus pandemic, but have gained ground in light of it. Remote work and remote education have emerged and have been effective thanks to video conferencing applications backed by improved network performance. With the rise of video applications, one questions the role of mobile operators and the impact it has had on them.

Video applications, whether meant for entertainment or communication, have been the star of this critical period because they guaranteed business continuity amid lockdown and were a main tool to overcome the obstacles introduced by the pandemic. Global downloads of video communication applications have surged due to the increase in the amount of virtual meetings, webinars, online classes and training programs.

Statistics show that video applications are being used on mobile phones more than other devices. Mobile video viewers represent a small number of overall mobile subscribers, yet they generate 50 percent of data traffic on mobile networks today. Video consumption has generated a high network demand and mobile operators are faced with the challenge of catering to that demand while preserving a good network quality.

The increase in subscriptions to OTT platforms and video applications downloads has put pressure on mobile operators who should leverage the leverage the mobile video boom for their own success. A report by IHS Markit sponsored by Huawei explains that “Mobile video can be used by operators to: drive higher revenues through operator run services, increase ARPU by adding value to higher tier packages through bundled access to premium content, attract and retain customers through zero-rated plans, target specific audience segments through new forms of content, and expand beyond their traditional footprint.”

Instead of simply being the pipeline for OTT platforms and video applications, mobile operators can leverage their expertise in network management, subscriber data and analytics and customer relationships, and create a video strategy.

Leading operators have come to realize the importance of a mobile video strategy to keep pace with the evolution of the video streaming industry. Some have launched their own brand that offers video services, while others reached out to third-party players and signed strategic partnerships.

For a mobile video strategy to succeed, operators need to consider some elements, according to the study by IHS Markit. First of all, operators should aim for directly monetized content that includes ad-funded services and OTT subscriptions. Moreover, bundled services are always a win-win scenario for both operators and users.

Operators are not always the victim here. They are valuable partners for OTT providers given the fact that they offer valuable marketing funnels for their own user acquisition the potential to promote or even preinstall video apps, and also boost monetization through carrier billing partnerships. Carrier billing support is particularly important in less mature markets in which payment card penetration is lower.

When it comes to video calling platforms, strategies should go beyond content. Video quality during calls and meetings will be a major factor determining customer satisfaction and retention. Therefore operators should invest in network infrastructure to maintain a high quality video service.

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