As 5G continues its global rollout, immersive video services are becoming a popular enhancement to mobile plans.
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Operators Increasing Benefits for Mobile Plans
Telecom operators have been continuously adjusting and enhancing their mobile plans to capture value and increase subscriber growth. In recent years, the strategy of bundling services with benefits, such as free video streaming, added cloud storage, and unlimited data consumption, has become key for operators wanting to gain an edge in the industry. For example, Verizon has four unlimited data plans — Start Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Get More Unlimited — with tariff plans varying from US$30 to US$90 per month depending on the plan and the number of lines subscribed. Higher tiered plans have added features such as a 600 GB cloud storage and 50% off unlimited connected device plans. In addition, Verizon offers Disney+ for up to 12 months free or included depending on the choice of unlimited mobile plans. The operator reported that roughly two-thirds of the initial trial subscriptions retained Disney+ through their phone plans and, in Q2 of 2021, Verizon saw a net addition of 197,000 postpaid customers largely driven by 5G migration to premium plans. This bundling strategy has incentivized customers to opt for higher tier plans that not only benefit them but also increases operator revenue growth and retention of subscribers. However, with the rollout of 5G, new immersive video services have emerged that further augment the consumer experience and could possibly take operator growth to new heights.
New Immersive Video Services
Sports has been one area of focus where operators look to provide new and cutting-edge immersive video services. In April 2021, Verizon announced a multi-year partnership with Univision to deliver advanced 5G viewing of the Liga MX in the United States. Univision aims to launch its TUDN Vision content portal experience where fans can have 360° views of the stadium and be brought closer to the action. Verizon will facilitate the virtualization and enhance broadcast production processes using its 5G Ultra-Wideband connectivity. At the same time, both companies will also partner on an Enhanced Analytics feature where statistics and data captured by proprietary cameras in stadiums will be overlayed using AR to enhance the fan viewing experience. Another similar partnership, involving Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMS Productions, and NBC Sports working with Verizon, allowed 360° viewing of the Indy 500 on NBC Sports live television, again utilizing Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband service. EE in the UK provides its 5G users of BT Sport application with upgraded 360° digital viewing options while eliminating buffering for digital users.
EE is also building momentum in the education industry by creating the UK’s first 5G-enabled immersive classroom. By deploying its 5G Rapid Site solution through the EE 5G network, the 360° classroom creates a digital projection on surrounding walls and ceiling that goes beyond the traditional methods of teaching and offering students with an immersive and inclusive digital experience. With the greater bandwidth from 5G service, both students and educators can livestream virtually from any location without much disruption, and it allows for great number of connections to the network as compared to previous networks.
Enhancing Consumer Service Offerings Through Immersive Video
According to ABI Research’s Over the Top (OTT) and Multiscreen Video and Digital Content market data, it is forecasted that the global online video market revenue will reach US$110 billion by 2024 from US$58 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 17.2%. This level of growth shows the potential that operators can tap into through enhancing their consumer service offerings towards immersive video. Operators should continually look to improve their mobile bundling plans and offerings to attract more subscribers and increase retention of their service. The introduction and provision of value-added services and add-ons to mobile plans in the form of cloud storage, unlimited data streaming for video, free video streaming platform access, and much more can drive customer growth not only on lower tier plans but even more so on higher tier plans, allowing operators to capture greater revenue potential. As 5G continues to grow globally, it will enable further advancements in immersive video technology, creating more use cases for consumers to experience and enjoy while pushing operators to make adjustments and improvements to their offerings to capture the most value.