Among the services to be offered to fourth-generation (4G) users are ultra-broadband Internet access, gaming, and streamed multimedia. Of those new services, many are hoping for a "killer app" that will create increased revenue for carriers, thereby financing the wider rollout of 4G infrastructure and devices. Judging by results of consumer behavior at the FIFA 2010 World Cup soccer tournament this past June, the key is to enable users to more easily share experiences with their friends, family, and peerswith both the right multimedia options and devices.
Nearly 400,000 visiting soccer fans from all over the world came to South Africa to watch 32 countries compete in the 19th FIFA World Cup tournament. As they attended both the games and festivities, they sent pictures, videos, and messages using e-mail and messaging servicesall using wireless data networks. Aicent, Inc. (www.aicent.com), which is one of the largest eXchange service providers to enable inter-network roaming, recorded huge surges in network traffic during the competitionas much as 300 percent higher than in weeks just prior to the World Cup.
Aicent observed that traffic correlated directly with the number of matches taking place on a specific day. In other words, the more matches in a day, the higher traffic would spike. The day with the highest volume of data traffic was Wednesday, June 23when Nigeria and South Korea played to a tie, Argentina defeated Greece, England defeated Slovenia, and the US defeated Algeria. The day with the next-highest volume was Tuesday, June 15, when three matches ended in ties.
The 2010 World Cup also provided information about user preferences in terms of deviceespecially considering 4G's promise of mobile video and television. Over the duration of this global event, MobiTV, Inc.'s (www.mobitv.com) technology platform delivered more than 100 million minutes of coverage from ESPN Mobile TV with 100-percent uptime. Interestingly, people viewed the World Cup for longer periods if they had larger screens on their handheld devices. The average minutes viewed were 118.2 for a 5-in. screen versus 61.1 for a 2-in. screen.
Mobile TV also lived up to predictions by supplementing at-home viewing rather than replacing it. Weekday games played at 2:30 p.m. EST had the highest average minutes per game. Of course, all of these statistics revolve around a very popular sporting event that only occurs every four years. Despite the fact that this user group was especially exuberant, however, its behavior offers telltale signs of user preferences. A growing number of consumers want to convey something about their experiences when they are on the go. Going forward, they will only demand more relevant, live, multimedia content. With news or events that they believe are worth sharingand the service and device to make that experience a good oneconsumers will drive the growth of devices, services, and infrastructure to 4G and beyond.