This is interesting from a regulatory perspective. Telenor launched MobileTV today over EDGE/GPRS. Technically it is a WAP gateway that connects to a streaming server to stream content to a supported phone. The application seems to be a Java-based media player since it supports a range of phone platforms. With EDGE, you could expect 15fps at webcam quality for the type of phones that have to run this app.
MobileTV has been cited as what could be a killer app for the Pakistani masses, and by the looks of the premier TV Channels, Telenor is gunning straight for them, adding local channels and channels for youth up first.
The trouble is the obscene pricing structure, which can pretty much take out all the youth (who wouldn’t want to pay this much for MTV on the go).
Note: All prices are subjected to 15% GST. Standard GPRS download charges apply.
Add to this a fairly complex (half a page) instruction set for actually getting TV started, and the requirement of logging in with your username and password, and poof there goes the ability for the masses to actually use the product.
Formally, the “transaction costs of using the product far outweigh the benefit”.
I dont know why the technical people building the product dont focus on the user experience and user cost of action. How do you explain to someone who needs Khyber TV on the road how to login to a WAP server after some SMS exchanges all in english?
Next, the launch timing is just way off, launching the day after the World Cup finishes, which was probably going to be the single biggest use of the app for premier users.
Now all that said, I said this was interesting from a regulatory perspective. While the PTA regulates most value-added-services by telecos, they clearly define “voice transferred over analog or as bits in a digital signal” both as voice services.
Video, on the other hand, is regulated by PEMRA, and the big debate over the past few years has been for both the regulators to agree upon who will govern converged services involving video.
PEMRA regulates IPTV, and there is a chance they gave the nod to Telenor for MobileTV as well, even though the application is based on EDGE/GPRS which has to be approved by PTA.
The interesting bit is who will regulate and check whether the “playing field is level” for MobileTV as a value-added telecom service?
What about any additional functionality, such as the ability for Telenor to change channels on the service — doesn’t that qualify as a data-enabled service governed by PTA?
Somehow, somewhere Telenor got through the complexity, and I know a number of people who would like to know how.