Had my regular catch up with the Former CTO of one of Britains largest Mobile Networks. Over our Pizza and Salad we set about putting the world to rights.
One of my observations was to do with why are operators launching HSDPA when they cannot get customers to use 3G services? His reply was that they have been upsold by the Manufacturers on the basis that if you build it they will come. However after five minutes to mapping out what delights we could expect to see he agreed that it was a question of build it and you will have a white elephant.
What I pointed out was that if we take mobile TV as a business case you see that the whole thing is an example of Marketing leading innovation. Here in the UK we are asked to pay £10 per month for access to Mobile TV on a 3G handset. For our money we can access a number of services that I already access via my £28 per month subscription to SKY the only difference was that I now have to watch in on a two inch screen rather than my 42 inch Plasma screen. I am already upset that I pay an additional TV tax for a lience to receive TV and so the demand for me to watch is limited and most likely it will be on a Pay Per View basis rather than monthly sub. My friend agreed that even Mobile Porn was limited at present as he had been unable to find anything suitable for personal use or to show to mates for a laugh in the pub, and this thus demonstarted that we were not yet ready for Mobile TV. When I went on to say that a recent meeting with the Chief Creative Officer of Endermol, the company who produce the highly successful Big Brother, told me that whilst mobile has given a highly effective interactive element to his programs they are some way away from looking at content because they have too many other challenges at present namely HDTV and falling add revenues.
Thus we agreed that whilst it was possible to narrowcast TV to mobiles it was unlikely that it would take off.
This made as invert the question to what technology is needed to make mobile a better experience?
The quick answer was that we need to look at improving the present network coverage in building. The solution is Pico cells we agreed the problem is distribution. Perhaps the Mobile networks can take a lead from the fixed guys and adopt a strategy similar to WiFi Hotspots. So if I offer to improve the 3G coverage in my area with a Pico cell for Orange they can offer me a cut of the revenue from others using my cell. This was seen as an interesting conundrum but it falls down because of problems with the billing system being able to record the traffic over my system and insure that I receive the agreed fee.
The next issue was the improvement of voice quality so that we can connect with services automatically. We spoke of a number of technologies that are looking at solving this problem and in a effort to discover more we have agreed to visit the FT labs as others have said that they are leading the development of voice services.
Then we looked at what could be done improve the Management and Strategy of the networks, this was when the lunch decended in dispair when we tried to judge just which CEO was the most effective at distroying value.
Thus with the bill paid and other meetings to attend we left the Pizza House and went on to our next meetings upset that the industry we have spent a long time working in is in need of so much development if we are to reach what was mapped out when we were happily bidding for 3G licences.