We’ve just returned for a round table with some of the significant players at both EE and associated companies such as Deezer, Gameloft and the BBC. The focus of the meeting was to uncover how 4G connectivity amongst consumers will change the way they access content for entertainment on their devices. Key representatives included David Salam and Richard Reeves, heads of strategy at EE, Jane Weedon from the BBC, Mark Foster from Deezer and David Whitby from Gameloft.
With EE’s 4G network only a five weeks old, consumers are yet to realise that they can shift away from old habits and realise the potential freedom offered by the new data speeds. Services like Deezer have already built a business on offering their music streaming services in partnership with Orange UK on the network’s Panther plans and 4G is only likely to improve the experience for the end user.
Gaming on the move
Meanwhile David Whitby spoke at length on the restrictive nature of mobile games especially with regards to the limitations of high-end titles on connected devices. The gaming experience on offer from franchises like Asphalt and N.O.V.A, although approaching console standard, cannot yet rely on mobile connectivity to offer a smooth gaming experience outright, delivered in a style not dissimilar from say, OnLive.
Even with 4G speeds, a mobile gaming experience solely relying on streaming isn’t yet viable but that isn’t to say that 4G can’t greatly contribute to the current gaming experience. Gameloft have already worked with EE to produce a version of Asphalt 7’s multiplayer which is optimised with 4G connectivity in mind and also trialed in-game VoIP chat over Verizon’s 3G in the US.
Unless the infrastructure changes, which is entirely possible down the line, supporting fast-paced mobile games whilst the player is moving say from street level to underground or through varying levels of signal strength is currently an impossibility.
Music on the fly
Deezer’s MD for the UK & Ireland, Mark Foster spoke of the nature of music streaming on-the-go. The French company’s service saw a dramatic increase in usage when it partnered with France Telecom (Orange FR) and they expect that the long term effects of EE4G will push the demands for their services even further, with richer content experiences, higher fidelity audio files and a greater breadth of tools at the disposal of both consumer and artist.
Video on your device
BBC iPlayer has evolved a lot since its first release on Christmas Day, 2007 and with its most recent offering being the ability to save programs for offline playback on mobile, 4G connection speeds are going to prove more useful than ever. The introduction of 4G has meant that users can effectively download a 30 minute program in just two minutes, whilst streaming speed and quality will continue to improve as the UK 4G infrastructure matures.