Death of the couch potato?

29 July 2014 | Bernhard Pussel

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Bernhard Pussel

Blog Author | Colt Technology Services; Director of Operator Channel


Do you sometimes find that you spend more time browsing and consuming content on your smartphone or tablet than you spend watching TV?

Do you sometimes find that you spend more time browsing and consuming content on your smartphone or tablet than you spend watching TV?

According to recent research from eMarketer, you aren’t alone. In fact, this year is the first time ever that the amount of time we spend watching films and gaming on smartphones, laptops and tablets will exceed the amount of time we spend watching television. People in the UK are set to spend about 3 hours and 40 minutes per day consuming online media on different devices, compared with 3 hours and 15 minutes watching TV.

According to Ofcom, the volume of smartphone sales has doubled in the last two years – so it is hardly surprising that mobile devices are driving us away from traditional screens. According to the independent regulator, more than double the proportion of adults in the UK were going to follow the FIFA World Cup in Brazil via their smartphones compared with the tournament in South Africa four years ago.

As consumers binge on Game of Thrones, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black on their tablets, and get addicted to Candy Crush Saga and Farm Heroes instead of tuning in to Coronation Street on their TVs, what are the implications for the mobile networks that enable the consumption of gigabytes of different online media?

We all want buffer-free video streaming, glitch-free gaming and lightning-fast download times – not just at home, but wherever we are, and on any device. The key challenge is ensuring that networks are able to cope with the increasing demand for bandwidth and capacity. To support media consumption on the go, 4G roll-out is underway in the UK and many mobile operators are already devising their game plans for 5G, to reassure consumers that they are ready for the super-connected future.

Yet, when it comes to mobile entertainment and anywhere connectivity, the weakest link in the UK’s mobile networks is the backhaul. As high-bandwidth content consumption grows in popularity, the mobile part of the network connecting base stations to the core network can buckle under the extra pressure.

That is why mobile operators must do more to ensure robust, continually available connectivity in this new era of media consumption. Rather than relying on their own networks or undertaking costly network expansion projects, they should work with wholesale telecom players to boost their reach and capacity.

Yes, content consumption is changing, but rather than fighting this change, mobile operators should look for innovative ways to collaborate with wholesale carriers.

By making use of wholesale providers’ extensive, high-speed networks, mobile operators are able to make their own networks more robust and granular, bringing users the bandwidth they crave and ensuring a glitch-free experience for media consumption both at home and on the go.