From Carriage to Content - The future of telcos

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With regard to future mobile content, 35 percent said they wanted more maps and directions, 34 percent wanted more weather with 32 percent calling for more news content.

Respondents under 25 accessed the most information from their mobile phones.

News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch recently coined the term ‘digital natives’ to describe this generation of consumers who have more than likely grown up in the medium. He suggests that those older are ‘digital immigrants’. Both groups are worth big money.

“A 3G customer, in terms of their content spend, is easily worth three times a 2.5G customer,” says HWW’s Wilson.

The emergence of new high bandwidth services such as ADSL2+ – several times faster than normal ADSL – and further enhanced 3G services such as Telstra’s recently launched NextG network, boasting HSDPA and therefore potential wireless speeds of up to 14Mbps, will provide a major stimulus to digital content depending on the rate of uptake.

And while Digital TV will no doubt have major implications for content delivery and spending in Australia, it still has many creases to be ironed out. Free-to-air networkers are required to provide a certain amount of high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) programming but the regulatory framework is still being worked out on the fly, particularly with regard to issues like multi-channelling. Auctions for the so-called channel A and channel B (or mobile channel) spectrum are expected to take place next
year and again, it remains to be seen what shape things will take.

While concerns have been raised about the quantity of Australian digital content versus that sourced from the US and other places, unlike on free-to-air TV, there is the belief that there’s plenty of Australian content in cyberspace. “Most non-entertainment content is very Australian,” says the AIMIA’s Butterworth.

The industry body reports that there are now several hundred Australian companies exporting digital content at the moment, with Asia proving to be the strongest market, especially for games and mobile-based services for learning English.

“Asian mobile phone culture is different to ours and there is a lot of opportunities for Australian content developers,” he says. One company is marketing a CD-ROM to demonstrate Australia’s less water intensive techniques for growing rice to the Vietnamese.

Ice TV started off providing the electronic program guide (EPG) for free-to-air which has now spawned a number of interactive services allowing, for instance, users to simply click on their computer or mobile screen at the start of the week to select the programs they want to record. IceTV has bundling agreements with computer companies such as HP, Toshiba, Acer and Optima. IceTV general manager, Matt Kossatz, predicts that the role of TV will be very different in the coming years.

“There are a lot of experts in the industry who feel that instead of watching TV, people will subscribe to the production houses,” he says.

For instance consumers could pay for season passes or indicate their preference for different genres or actors.

IceTV’s core technology was developed by eminent Australian inventor, Peter Vogel, and allows users to pause, rewind and fast forward content, including ads of course - a feature which prompted PBL to take legal action against IceTV recently. However, Kossatz emphasises that the ability to access a more targeted audience via digital will likely prove more powerful for advertisers in the future, while filling the coffers of carriers and media companies which find the right strategies and partnerships.

“Eventually all content is going to be delivered by the Net,” he says.
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