Our cell phones are not just phones anymore. We have experienced a mobile revolution in true sense. We take pictures, listen to music, make videos, and check our emails on the go. Just then when we wonder what mobile phones cannot do; we were introduced to the concept of â€˜mobile TVâ€™ though right now itâ€™s not the rage in Pakistan. I have reasons to believe that mobile TV on our cell phones can be very popular here as well though right now it is not.
According to the statistical compilation of PTA, total number of mobile subscribers in September crossed 90 million. It is estimated that in 2011, number of mobile users will reach 105-110 million, a pretty hefty number by anyoneâ€™s standard. With this huge number of growing stats, one thing is sure, anything related to mobile has a huge market here. Put in the entertainment factor and itâ€™s a hit among the masses!
We have a couple of telcos offering Mobile TV but an average user has yet to adopt to this phenomenon. Major reasons are cost and quality, with economy down and basic necessities going out of reach, paying for mobile TV especially when you don’t get a quality service is understandable. But like I said, Mobile TV is not an entirely lost cause and can be a massive success if friendly tarrifs are introduced.
If we speak of our neighbor, India is lagging behind Pakistan in this area with only one broadcaster, Doordarshan, offering the service on a limited scale. On the contrary, all popular local channels are readily available here and we have a much deeper cellular penetration.
Three telcos; Ufone, Mobilink and Telenor are already offering this service in Pakistan and their rates are almost at par with each other – and uneconomical. Mobilink mobile TV give access to various local channels 24 hours and charges PKR 6/MB+ Tax. Telenor claims to provide more than 23 channels to the service subscribers and charges PKR 15/MB+Tax. Ufone also provide this service to its users as well though not much information is given regarding the package on their site.
Mobile TV is only available on EDGE-enable sets, which are unaffordable for a common Pakistani and even if they buy it; EDGE tarrif is way higher.
Telcos are also missing another big opportunity; video on demand TV. I would cite the example of cricket euphoria. Any of these giants can come up with a solution like offering the whole series for let’s say PKR 500 or so. Similary other events like Oscars, Olympics or Football world cup can also be offered. There are many likely customers who don’t want to subscribe to a complete 24-hour package; they want selected material.
Generally speaking, the opportunities provided by a mobile TV are endless. It can be used as a tool for dissipating knowledge and awareness. A Peshawar University report even went to the extent of saying that this service can alter the mindsets of tribesmen. Well I don’t know whether this statement holds ground or not but it can be used as an engine for social change.