In an ambitious move, the Indian government is investigating the possibility of introducing Direct-to-Mobile (D2M) broadcasting, which would allow users to stream live TV on their mobile devices without the need for an internet connection.
Telecom Operators Express Concerns
According to a report by ET, the government is currently discussing the introduction of this technology with various stakeholders, including telecom operators. However, there is apprehension from telecom entities who fear this move might adversely affect their data revenue streams.
Key decision-makers are set to meet next week, including representatives from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), IIT Kanpur, and the broadcasting and telecom sectors.
A Look at the Bigger Picture: 5G and Content Delivery
As the world moves towards the 5G era, the government envisions a unified method of delivering content through both broadcasting and broadband. The significance of this move can be highlighted by Deloitte's 2022 Global TMT report, which states that while TV reaches about 210-220 million households, India boasts nearly 800 million smartphone users—a number predicted to hit 1 billion by 2026. Notably, over 80% of current internet traffic is video-based.
A primary focus of introducing D2M is to disseminate educational material and crucial content like emergency alerts efficiently.
D2M: The Future of Broadcasting?
In June of the previous year, IIT Kanpur released a detailed whitepaper (1) about D2M broadcasting and the 5G integration strategy tailored for India in collaboration with telecom startup Saankhya Labs for hardware support.
Tagged as NexGen Broadcast, D2M is seen as an evolved form of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), effortlessly merging into the OTT landscape. This integration allows D2M facilitators to make use of the current CDN infrastructure and edge computing facilities, promising an unparalleled mobile TV experience.
Highlighting its versatility, IIT Kanpur's whitepaper mentions,
"With D2M, broadcasters can deliver not only conventional TV and radio but also essential services like educational resources, disaster updates, on-demand videos, and even over-the-air firmware updates for vehicles."
In terms of potential benefits, the technology could enhance viewership, optimize advertising revenue, and provide tailored news and ads, all the while being optimized for mobile networks. IIT Kanpur has already initiated a live Proof-of-Concept (PoC) utilizing low-power BRHs on cell towers in Bengaluru to validate these claims further.