Is the increase in sales of smart phones and mobile PCs causing a problem for mobile video users? According to recent reports, it would appear that it is. As the old saying goes, ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ and too many users mean a slow (or very expensive) service.
One of the biggest current technological growth markets is that of mobile PCs and high specification smart phones. With their increased functionality, more and more people are taking up precious bandwidth with live streaming, downloading video and making video calls.Manufacturers of these high-tech devices are actively advertising their exceptional video capabilities and naturally those who are buying them have most likely done so to use them.Add to that the fact that many businesses have seen the merit of supplying their staff with tablet PCs as work tools and they are using them regularly for video calling and video conferencing because it is much more personal than a mere phone call.
Bearing in mind that video usage takes up 228 times the amount of bandwidth than a voice call and the problem becomes much clearer. There is only a certain amount of wireless bandwidth available and demand is beginning to exceed supply.For users, video content also costs more to view than other types of content because the data files are much bigger and take longer to download. The true cost depends on the network and tariff used, but five hours of video use can consume 5GB of download.The problem increases still further when there is a big news or sporting event taking place because demand for streaming can increase hugely. The biggest upcoming concern is the 2012 Olympic Games, when it is expected that millions of users will want to view events on mobile devices and, as things stand, are going to struggle to do so.
The mobile broadband providers’ answer in the interim is a form of rationing. Users of free services will receive increasingly lower bit rates and those who want more or premium quality viewing will have to pay premium rates for it.This is already being reflected in the form of increased prices for downloading video apps and higher subscription fees for streamed programmes and downloading clips or films. An Alternative Solution
One potential solution that is already undergoing extensive research is creating a low bit-rate form of video which also has sufficient quality to satisfy video users, as well as providing value for money when used on mobile network devices.Research carried out by Keith Ferguson, on behalf of Umist, involves examining two things: the way the human brain perceives moving images and visual patterns that could potentially be representative of video. It is described as working in this way:
“If you look at someone moving their hand across their face, for instance, you do not need to see each finger in detail. The same is true of a footballer chasing the ball across a pitch. It is not necessary to depict the footballer’s legs moving as clearly as the ball. The brain will still perceive that his legs are moving.”
For the time being, users of high-end mobile devices are going to have to swallow the ‘high cost for high quality’ stance that providers of mobile broadband are offering.As for the alternative, the final result of Ferguson’s research would require using an infinite number of patterns and a very complex algorithm to be good enough to convince the human brain, but it may have possibilities for the more distant future.
About the Author:
The above article is composed and edited by Donna B. She is associated with many technology and designing communities including Broadband Expert as their freelance writer and adviser. In her free time she writes articles related to technology, mobile broadband, etc.