Sprint: “LTE allows a video experience closer to TV”

Douglas Alston, Sprint

Douglas Alston, Sprint

Douglas Alston, Director of Technology Strategy and Architecture at US telco Sprint, on the changes 4G mobile will bring to the TV landscape, the role cloud delivery will have in the TV service of the future, and the concerns he has on the user experience side.

Douglas will be speaking at the TV Connect 2013 event taking place in London on 19-21 March 2013. For more information and to register, please visit

It has been an exciting time for 4G/LTE services in the US recently. What changes do you think it will bring for the TV landscape?

The higher bit rates of LTE will allow higher resolutions, frame rates and video quality. To date, we have seen sports and internet content make its way to the mobile device.

We are only now seeing full episode, linear programming such as HBO GO and Xfinity make its way to the mobile device.

LTE allows a video experience closer to what one expects from television, and it will be exciting to see full-length content such as TV and movies become a good mobile experience.

Is Wi-Fi offloading the key to TV on the move?

For the home, Wi-Fi will not likely be an offload as much as it will be another viewing screen or companion media display.

For mobile operators, Wi-Fi presents an opportunity to integrate with your local media and offload in the home.

In the enterprise, it will likely be used for offload and to access secured, enterprise video which presents an interesting opportunity for everyone.

On the move, at least in the United States, mobile operators will need to integrate a seamless hand-off experience with Wi-Fi and LTE.

Each may not be ubiquitous enough for every user, every time.

What role will the cloud have in the delivery of TV services in future?

The obvious trend we see is the migration of the video service (portal, search and programming guide) into the cloud.

Depending upon regulatory issues, the cloud will play a role in DVR services.

Standards work such as the IETF CDNI effort is underway that can integrate the cloud with content distribution, but for numerous reasons (cost being one), content is typically sent to the edge of the network for distribution.

What concerns do you have on the UX side?

How the mobile device and service plays in the user interface has been a struggle. Sometimes it is a display, other times it is a video camera, video server or a remote control.

If TV experiences are to be seamless then the mobile’s many ‘faces’ must be quickly interchangeable and user friendly, which is a challenge.

For example, in today’s DLNA functions the mobile as a controller does not work well when someone starts a stream and then leaves the room with their phone.

We have many partners and standards organisations working with us but there is a lot of work ahead.

Still, mobile devices and services are expected to play an integral role in capturing, sharing and consuming video content.

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