Consumer usage of mobile video calling is skyrocketing, thanks in part to the large displays, front-facing cameras, and 4G/LTE network speeds of today’s advanced smartphones. Free video calling services, such as Tango Mobile, are growing at a phenomenal rate, with 80 million active users and an additional 200,000 joining daily.
For years, mobile operators predicted that mobile video calling would be the ultimate app to drive data consumption on a mass-market scale. With that said, this recent surge in usage must be great news for operators, right? Yes and no. According to a recent article by The New York Times, while the rise of mobile video calling is creating new business models, it’s also creating new stresses on mobile networks.
Cellular infrastructure, originally designed to carry voice traffic, now also must support the recent swell in data demand due to mobile video streaming and calling. Offloading this data traffic to Wi-Fi is a common approach; however, Wi-Fi is only one piece of the traffic management puzzle. Rather than waiting for a bandwidth-hungry service to congest the network, an intelligent client can detect video traffic before it gets on the network, and redirect it to circumvent potential issues.
Over-the-top (OTT) services, such as Tango Mobile and Skype, are creating a significant market disruption; however, it’s important to know that this success was made possible due to the billions of dollars in investments made by the operators. In addition, as traditional voice service and messaging revenues are starting to decline, operators have largely failed to capitalize on the trend by providing video calling services of their own. Clearly, operators can’t continue to take a back seat to the innovative messaging services we see on the open market. In order to take full advantage of the opportunity, they must take a leading role in providing the rich video services and data capacity that users are demanding.
Will mobile operators adapt to this new landscape and launch services that will continue to fuel their growth? Look into your crystal ball and tell us your thoughts.