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Prague 2015

World Telemedia Prague 2015 Round Up

World Telemedia Prague 2015 was all about opportunities. The UK telemedia market has had a bad summer – though perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel; it looks like there may be some thawing in the MNOs – and talk at World Telemedia really was about how to profit in what is now a very different market place to the one we had even a year ago.

There are still great opportunities around TV and interaction with media – but things have moved on considerably from the days of text voting. It is now part of a sophisticated audience engagement strategy and revenue streams are not as clear as they were. They are there, but you have to box clever.

Claire McLaughlin from the BBC outlined the findings of some intense audience research that the TV companies in the UK had done earlier this year and painted an interesting picture of what viewer habits are and how they could be tapped into.

But where is the core PRS offerings in all this? With charge to mobile in the UK in disarray and MNOs across the world slowly but surely being forced into being dumb pipes, what are the opportunities for good old fashioned telmedia services?

Ironically, in the UK, as Nick Lane points out in his presentation, charge to mobile is one of the most popular options for payment among consumers – topping credit and debit card for some services and content – showing that there is still an untapped market here.

This, of course, may revolve around overseas opportunities for the time being as the MNOs in the UK are doing their best to stymie any progress Charge to Mobile may make across the UK – but that’s another story. Where carrier billing is being embraced – largely in Europe – it shows great potential and we look forward to seeing where all that is next year. The opening up of the carrier billing market across the continent through PSD2 – ably covered by Rory Maguire, MD of AIME – shows that there are now some great opportunities to make inroads into some new market sectors, not least ticketing and car parking. Things may be tough in the UK for these services, but in the EU there are plenty of things happening.

This all makes for some interesting intersections between traditional telemedia and the new ‘uberised’ world of Google, Apple, Amazon and, errr. Uber.

What do these companies and their moves into payments and in some ways services mean for the telemedia sector? Of course they are a threat, but they also present an opportunity. And it is in addressing these opportunities in an Uber world that will be where telemedia in the developed world has to go.

As AIME’s Maguire points out in his other presentation – The role of telemedia in the Uber world – there are places that it can work. ‘Uberisation’ is about designing a service to fulfill an old need in a new, quick, seamless way. Understanding how to use the relatively seamless way carrier billing can work is going to be what makes this happen.

And if it doesn’t? Then telemedia will no longer be viable in the developed world. Simple.

But all is not lost. In the developing world what telemedia does best has some great opportunities. As more and more people in these regions get feature phones and cheap smartphones – and as they shift to an online way of life driven by mobile networks rather than fixed line internet – so the need to make services such as Skype Calling and Google Voice work.

Typically this now has to go across some form of mobile network and this growth in traffic – ironically driven by OTT – is a boon for telemedia.

It may have the networks looking increasingly like dumb pipes, but it is producing a lot of international traffic. That’s where you guys come in.

This was the thrust of the panel featuring Tim Williams from Felix Telecoms, Eric Pomeroy from ArribaCom and Josef Bruckschlogl from Kwak. How to capture international traffic and what you can do with it.

The rise of OTT services on mobile will drive it and there is much to be made from it.

There is another upside to this: international PRS traffic can generate vast amounts of revenue for these poor countries. It has long been the way that cost of calling poor countries from rich ones was priced so that the money flows towards the poorer economy. That continues, with telemedia and IPRN at its vanguard.