In 2020, the mobile internet will provide new opportunities to enjoy a wider variety of mobile content on more digital devices. But as all types of content are available anytime and anywhere, mobile operators will struggle to provide a consistent positive quality of user experience while protecting the network’s most vulnerable audiences.
Here is a roundup of the good, the bad and the ugly of what we can expect next year.
The Good: A Whole New Mobile Experience
In 2020, subscribers will discover a whole new world on their mobile devices. Subscription-based VOD services such as Disney+, Epic and Apple TV+ will be streamed on smartphones. In addition, more subscribers will use Google Play to watch the latest movies and shows on Android phones before they hit DVD or streaming services.
Mobile devices will also be used to play fast-action video games like Destiny 2 and Mortal Kombat 11. And all of PlayStation 4’s games will use its remote play feature to stream to smartphones. Subscribers will publish even more content as user-generated content marketing campaigns like GoPro’s and Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” become standard promotional practices.
Meanwhile, in the search to pick the fastest network, consumers will look for verification of network performance claims from third parties such as Ookla, PC Magazine, Tom’s Guide, and OpenSignal that continually inspect, measure and rank mobile operators based on speed.
The Bad: Obstacles To Achieving A Superior User Experience
The increase in mobile internet traffic will challenge mobile operators to keep sufficient bandwidth to provide smooth, uninterrupted viewing experiences. In order to be faster than the competition, AT&T and Verizon already offer 5G services in a handful of cities in the U.S., and U.S. Cellular is aiming to unveil its 5G service in early 2020.
However, at the same time, there are organizations blocking 5G installations due to concerns about harm to the environment. “Small cells,” which are used to power 5G grids, require a lot of infrastructure, making it difficult for mobile operators to get permits from homeowner associations, local government units and other stakeholders.
Operators will also have to continue to invest in 4G networks since 5G is not available everywhere, and not every subscriber has a 5G phone, putting a further strain on mobile operator resources.
Also, network neutrality will continue to be debated in the courtrooms, creating more fear, doubt and suspicion about how fairly content providers are serviced by mobile operators. According to a recent global study (via Bloomberg), “Researchers from Northeastern University and University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted more than 650,000 tests in the U.S. and found that from early 2018 to early 2019, AT&T Inc. throttled Netflix Inc. 70% of the time and Google’s YouTube service 74% of the time.”
The Ugly: Kids’ Exposure To The Dark Side Of The Web
The internet is becoming more entertaining for young users, yet also more threatening. Kids are increasingly exposed to the dark side of the Web — everything from cyberbullying to sexual predators. In addition to exposure to inappropriate content, parents are also concerned about excessive screen times that can interfere with socializing and school work.
In an effort to protect the most vulnerable audiences, I believe content filtering will gain more attention. At least 27 states in the U.S. already have laws that pertain to internet filtering in order to ensure schools and libraries install content filtering software on terminals and computers. At the same time, younger subscribers are becoming more sophisticated at finding easy ways to circumvent content control services.
Meanwhile, mobile operators’ revenues are being squeezed as providing content control services is becoming more expensive as a result of more data consumption. This will become more of an issue with the deployment of mobile fiber to the home (FTTH) and 5G networks.
In short, next year will bring new and exciting services powered by advanced technology with an equally urgent need to minimize harmful side effects. Regulatory agencies, parents and mobile operators will join forces to protect the environment and the youngest and most vulnerable users.