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Ericsson showcased its latest media solutions, paying special attention to the evolution of the cloud and the use of multi-screens at CABSAT 2016 in Dubai, where content owners, TV service providers and broadcasters gathered to discuss the challenges of the TV industry which has resulted in the growth of the cloud, as well as the popularity of multi-screens. Ericsson addressed these challenges by offering simple, yet powerful solutions at its stand during the event by presenting its vision for the future of cloud-driven experiences. Telecom Review sat with Tarek Saadi,Head of Engagement Practices, Ericsson, Middle East, to discuss Ericsson's latest video offerings.

Can you update us on Ericsson's current video offerings?
Ericsson has a wide range of products relating to video, video compression, video optimizing in the mobile networks and video caching. On top of that we also have a host of services including Media First which was recently announced. It is a broad platform through which our operators can deliver content to multiple platforms: TV, iPad and phone, so it means that multi-screen content is delivered and the user interface is versatile and can profile different users.

Is the video industry a big focus for Ericsson and how are you working with mobile operators and telcos on this?
Yes it is. Consumer Labs is a research facility at Ericsson where we conduct different studies on multiple consumers globally and we gather information that we feed back to the market and to the operators. The studies are telling us that video is becoming the dominant manner of communication for many users and video will constitute more than 75 percent of the total traffic in any given network. A recent study saw that when a user is waiting for a video to download, if the wait time is more than 2 seconds then the feeling of anguish and stress increases. If that delay becomes 6 seconds, the level of the heartbeat for the user goes up by almost 40 percent which is equal to watching a horror movie.

Customer experience is one of the key differentiators for operators, so we work with them to ensure that video content is delivered efficiently and without any delay. We also we want to make sure that this video content does not occupy the resources in the network. The network is an expensive investment for the operator so you want to make sure you're compressing this video making it available as close as possible to the user; this is called caching.

On top of that we would like to enable the operators to capture some of the revenue. It is not just the Over-The-Top (OTT) players such as Amazon and Netflix that should benefit, but the operators also, and that was the importance of the announcement we made yesterday on Media First. The platform enables the operator to capture back some of that revenue now they are able to deliver the content on multiple screens; they can deliver their own content and they can benefit from that revenue and that customer experience.

When can we expect to see the studies from the Consumer Labs go live?
All the technology is available now but it just depends on where you are as a user and if you are connected to a network that incorporates the technology we are talking about; for example, MSP which is a way to optimize video; MDM which is caching technology; and a third technology is compression. If you add these technologies into a network and put them in the right places then you shouldn't have any problems. That is a capability that we have at Ericsson.

The demand for faster connectivity is growing, how will you continue to address that?
It is about expanding the network resources; growing the network, but also growing it in a way where the operators get the right return for their investment. We want to be able to capture the revenue of the video that is being channeled through the network and to expand the network as it is growing, however we do not want to add capacity which is very costly without incorporating these tools. I am talking about the example of these OTT players who are providing content such as Netflix and many other companies; these guys can deliver the content to the user. This is a value, and what the user is looking for, but then the operator, such as Etisalat or du, or other operators in our region, where do they benefit? They will have to invest to make sure that the experience of the user is positive; otherwise the user will start to look at alternative operators and switch.

Will this increasing demand for video have a negative effect on operators?
I think it can have a positive effect. It is a way for the operator to do what they have always been talking about: monetize the mobile broadband, monetize the data, data becomes video and if you implement the Media First platform then you are monetizing it and you are now in command of that content which is very important for the user.

Who do you think is driving this demand?
Consumers. The value is the video, so if operators can manage to capture that value then they are in command; if they don't, there will be another way of value reaching the users. Take the example of Google in the U.S. - they are building their own fiber network because they recognize that value is what we are offering - the content - but of course the operators we are working with including Google, are helping to recapture that value as well.

How does this region compare to others when it comes to the technology involved in the video industry?
It's hard to generalize because this region is very diversified, but I would say we are catching on, from talking to operators, that some are more advanced in the way they address video, while others are still exploring, and some are recognizing the importance, but are delaying the investment and what is required to address video. So as a leader in the industry, we are conveying the message, doing the research and showing the information and demonstrating it to the operators in the region. We're working in advanced markets such as the U.S. where video is extremely valuable and operators are consuming a lot.

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