During CTIA Wireless 2010 last week in Las Vegas, it was clear that most of the country's mobile operators are touting mobile video as the catalyst for spurring users onto their next-generation all-IP networks, regardless of whether those networks are leveraging WiMAX or Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Nextel — which is the majority investor in Clearwire and is reselling the company’s WiMAX services — predicted during his keynote speech that video would be a key driver for 4G adoption, and pointed toward the increasing demand in the enterprise for surveillance-, security- and medical-monitoring services as evidence. Moreover, Paget Alves, president of Sprint Business Markets Group, said in a recent interview that public safety has become the earliest adopter of its WiMAX services in the area of streaming video.

Sprint introduced at CTIA its long-awaited next-generation WiMAX device called the Evo 4G, built by HTC, which packs a number of cutting-edge features, including:

  • An 8-megapixel camera on the back of the device,
  • A 1.3-megapixel camera on the front,
  • HD video capture,
  • The Android 2.1 application platform,
  • HTC's Sense UI user interface,
  • The 1 GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm,
  • A 4.3-inch touchscreen display,
  • Support for Adobe's Flash technology in the browser, and
  • Personal hotspot capability that can connect up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

WiMAX will spur an evolution in the design and use of mobile devices, Hesse said. "Because the pipe is so much faster, you're going to see much faster processors," he said. The devices also will have larger screens to deliver a richer high-definition video experience, which is made possible by those higher speeds, Hesse added.

Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone indicated during a co-located event that multimedia video will be the application that spurs interest in LTE--both on the consumer and enterprise side. Verizon expects to roll out LTE services in 25 to 30 markets in 2010, covering one-third of the U.S. with LTE, he said.

Indeed, Cisco Systems recently issued a report that predicted video content via mobile networks will make up 66% of mobile data traffic by 2014. Cisco said that global mobile data traffic is growing 2.4 times faster than global fixed broadband data traffic. The company, which bases its information on a summary of analyst forecasts and data-usage studies, is forecasting that the total volume of mobile data traffic will reach 3.6 exabytes per month in 2014, growing 108% per year through 2014. The average mobile broadband connection today generates about 1.3 GB of traffic per month, but by 2014 users are expected to generate 7 GB per month, Cisco said.

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