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Deutsche Telekom: “We believe in a market for LTE proximity services”

Thomas Henze,  Head of Mobile Access, Deutsche Telekom

Thomas Henze,
Head of Mobile Access, Deutsche Telekom

LTE proximity services could conceivably change the way people communicate with one another and interact with their environment. In this exclusive IP&TV News interview, Thomas Henze, Head of Mobile Access, Deutsche Telekom, explains how…

IP&TV News: Hi Thomas. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you’ll be talking about at this year’s Video Over LTE Summit?

Thomas Henze: Working in the Digital Business Unit of Deutsche Telekom I am responsible for product and innovation management related to mobile access. At this year’s LTE World summit I will be talking about a new innovation topic: LTE proximity services.

We believe in a growing demand and market for proximity services. To satisfy this demand there is a chance for operators to introduce a telco grade mobile enabler for such services based on LTE. This poses a great chance for the industry to generate additional value for end customers.

The technology behind this is based on Qualcomm’s “LTE Direct” approach and being standardised in 3GPP already. It is basically a direct signal broadcast and discovery between mobile devices, moderated by the network.

So there’s the broadcast aspect to it, not broadcasting content, but broadcasting one’s presence and interest in a dedicated topic or action in order to make other users in the proximity range aware. This will be just the trigger for a variety of use cases leading to social, business and other physical contexts in a proximate area.

How is the new LTE-based technology superior to “non-telco” technologies?

Let me first take Low Energy Bluetooth beacon technology as an example which is being adopted at the moment, but which is limited to short range applications. This could be for example in-store information about different retail products which the customer receives on this smart-phone when moving close to these products in a store. LTE Direct would enable a much wider range – up to 500 meters – so it could bring customer foot traffic into this store.

Then there is the “classic” location-based approach (like GPS) which has virtually no range limitations but requires location management of all participating “elements” (which restricts community size), is not perfect for indoors and drains the phone’s battery quite a lot.

Can you give an example of social usage for LTE proximity service?

I’m in a park wanting to play soccer, only have a few friends with me, and simply communicating into my proximate environment: “Is there anybody interested in playing #soccer? Join us near the south entrance.” And then people around with activated “discovery function” on their smart phones, and having indicated an interest in #soccer to an application on this phone, will be notified and can join. A good way to make new friends. Or – as another example – I could have split my taxi fare coming here from the airport with nearby people with the same interest, i.e. same destination.

You communicate into an anonymous environment and let interested people respond. You can discover your environment and respond if what is being “offered” is of value to you.

Beyond social usage there is a lot of marketing potential for different kinds of local businesses in proximity services, especially if combined with other enablers. Example: Last minute selling of empty cinema seats (or city tours, restaurants – you name it) to local foot traffic around. This can nicely be combined with couponing and mobile payment elements, for instance. LTE proximity services will add a new vector to mobile advertising!

Would this broadcast be a video, a text– what?

There should be no limitation on content types. This doesn’t mean that an entire HD video clip will be broadcasted “directly” by the device into the air. It will be a combination of broadcasting so called “expressions” – and retrieving the related content via the network.

The challenge will be to ensure a great user experience and prevent “information overload” for individual users. So developers will have to ensure a very easy and convenient way to use applications leveraging proximity services. In addition there has to be a proper relevance filtering, so the customer isn’t bothered with just anything, but what they would like to be informed about at that very moment. Otherwise – as often with disruptive innovation – the blessing becomes a curse.

Thomas Henze will be appearing at the Video Over LTE Summit – co-located with the LTE World Summit (23-25 June, Amsterdam RAI)

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