Tuesday, 25 September 2012

London 2012 kick-starts a high speed media revolution

London 2012 surpassed all expectations, from the success of Team GB to the spirit generated throughout the United Kingdom and beyond. As the dust settles and legacy debate begins, let us take a look at how a mobile technology critical to the success of the Games is starting to undergo a revolution of its own.

For the thousands of Britons who poured through the Olympic Park this summer, there were many more that didn’t. But many of them still achieved an unprecedented sense of involvement, thanks in no small part to media delivered with a speed and style like never before.

Medal information, times, scores, images, reports and video were devoured by consumers across a number of different platforms, and everything simply worked. Fears about mobile network stability weren’t realised and data flowed in and out of venues reasonably smoothly. Media consumption rates rocketed as a result.

During the Beijing Games in 2008, 31 per cent of the British population went online to consume content; just two per cent viewed on a mobile. In London this summer, 56 per cent of the British population consumed media online, with 14 per cent consuming on a mobile device. Online content was focused on consumption through excellent tools like BBC’s iPlayer and dedicated applications for smartphones and tablet devices, which formed a large part of the 14 per cent.

BBC Olympics content
  • Over a single 24 hour period on the busiest day, bbc.co.uk received more visitors than for all combined FIFA World Cup 2010 matches.
  • The BBC Olympics mobile application for iOS and Android smartphones was downloaded 1.9 million times
  • During the weekends, 40% of browsers accessing BBC coverage were mobile
  • During the week, 30% of browsers accessing BBC coverage were mobile
  • 2.8 million mobile browsers requested BBC content on the busiest day, with 2.8 petabytes of data delivered
  • Over 700 gigabits per second were delivered on August 1st, when Bradley Wiggins won his gold medal
  • 12 million requests for mobile video were received over the course of the Games
  • The Olympics mobile website was visited by 9.2 million browsers, including 2.3 million tablet browsers
Four years of work was invested to ensure the streaming technologies used for these tools were frugal in terms of data consumption through both wireless and mobile networks. But were they frugal enough?

Using my iPhone, I watched Rebecca Adlington’s 400m freestyle race for gold in a restaurant and Tom Daley’s diving while waiting for a train. After these two events, although the latter was considerably longer, I received a text message from O2 saying I had almost reached my 3G data limit. I hadn’t considered my limit but clearly I still needed to, which was disappointing.

Rio 2016 and LTE

At Rio in 2016, with 4G mobile data connectivity widely embedded, we could be seeing mobile data rates being used by around the same number of people who are using traditional online data today. This marks another huge leap.

  • “Unlimited” data tariffs usually means a limit of 500MB
  • 3G offers, at best, 2MB per second
  • 4G offers, at best, 100MB per second
  • Tariffing has to change or we’ll consume a monthly allowance within an hour

With the significant leap in speeds offered by 4G comes the potential issue of users switching from traditional home broadband to depend exclusively on mobile connectivity. Perceptions of mobile and the power of what it can deliver will switch, which could lead to capacity problems and network infrastructure issues. The advent of 4G means a difficult data cost / value equation for mobile networks.
In America, T-Mobile sells an unlimited 4G data package for £60.00 per month and a 3G package, limited to 2 Gigabytes, at £52.00 per month. On average the typical UK consumer pays around £7.50 per month for “unlimited” data, usually capped at 500MB.

What it means for enterprise mobility

If mobile networks do create tariffs that work for everyone, the enterprise mobility space can experience another revolution. A 4G dongle that connects directly into an enterprise system suddenly gives incredibly fast access to information we are used to waiting some time for. It can open up possibilities and media many businesses understandably haven’t even considered using.

Our customers enjoy the value of capturing images to include in extensive asset registers and record exceptions to the norm. But users are often reluctant to capture more than one image and multiple images take more time to download all the way along the workflow.

4G brings possibilities for HD video, a technology largely consigned to the wilderness up until now. Video can offer a rich source of information for fieldworkers, from operating instructions and engineer guides, to remote diagnosis and video conferencing to help establish whether a call-out is necessary.

But as with earlier mobile data revolutions, first will come the overhaul of consumer behaviour and popular media consumption – a vital process of broad user education. With those usability lessons learned, the enterprise can begin to enjoy the benefits

1 comment:

Sizzling LEO said...

Technology Editor Matt Warman tested out connectivity speeds on the new EE Business Mobiles network, with the Samsung GS3 and iPhone 5.
The Samsung GS3 faired slightly better than the iPhone 5 in the test, achieving a speed of 30.1 megabits per second compared to the iPhone's 29.1 megabits per second.