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US lag behind mobile video streaming due to spectrum crunch

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Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and the UK rated their mobile video experiences as “very good”, while Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia joined the US in the “reasonable” category.

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Of the seven leading industrial economies – Canada, Germany, the UK, Japan, Italy, France and the US – the US had the lowest video experience of consumers, according to a study from Opensignal.

These frustrations can be attributed to the availability of wireless spectrum in the US. More than 70% of US consumers said they watch mobile videos at home over a WiFi connection, but a powerful network is required to support the delivery of high-quality mobile video on this scale. As demand continues to increase, the current WiFi connections continue to struggle, the report found.

SEE: 5G mobile networks: a guide for insiders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Opensignal interviewed 1,000 US consumers in November to determine the most popular ways they watched videos. The resulting State of Mobile Video Experience report is an analysis of the mobile user experience using data collected from August 1 to October 30, 2019.

The report took into account the image quality, the video loading time and the stand percentage when determining the score of each country on the observed mobile video quality. Testing mobile video streaming on a scale, the report did not estimate a video experience based on speed tests or other indirect forms of measurement.

American mobile video streaming experiences

Increasing use of apps and video streaming services have made mobile video viewing popular in the US. More than a third (37%) of US consumers said they watch mobile video on their smartphones several times a day, with YouTube (77%), Facebook (51%) and Netflix (47%) leading the way in used apps .

Although mobile viewing is becoming a more favorite way to view content, American consumers are not completely satisfied with the experience. The majority of American consumers rated their viewing experience as ‘reasonable’, with 44% stuttering or stuck when watching mobile video on their smartphone. An additional 30% said that if the stuttering or freezing occurs, they stop trying to look, the study found.

To improve mobile video quality in the US, carriers must adopt an affordable new mid-band spectrum that can support high-definition video consumption. Although 5G has the potential to support this type of use, the mmWave 5G spectrum currently used by US airlines cannot improve the user experience because it has a very limited range of networks using these frequencies, the report found.

The most important bands for powerful 5G connectivity are in the range of 3 to 6 GHz, but most of these frequencies are not yet widely used in the US. According to the report, these 5G frequencies are currently widely used in Europe, Korea, Australia and certain areas in Asia.

In 2020, 5G users worldwide will experience a consistent HD video stream in more locations than in 2019, but time will tell how much of the US is being recorded. Although 5G is currently deployed in some areas, the level of 5G required to support this type of streaming may take longer to fully grow through the US, the report said.

While 64% of US consumers said they are likely to watch shorter videos on their smartphones, longform content is becoming increasingly popular. Longform content includes TV shows and films or videos longer than five minutes. Almost 40% of respondents said they watch TV and 38% said they watch movies on their mobile devices. This number increases considerably with younger viewers: 55% of Gen Z users stream movies and 52% of millennials stream TV shows, the survey found.

This peak in longform usage can be attributed to new and emerging services such as Disney +, Apple TV + and HBO Max, all of which offer unique films and TV shows, the survey found.

Disney + in particular can contribute to the increased streaming of younger generations. However, since the streaming service will not be launched until November 12, the data from the report does not yet reflect the potential impact of Disney +. However, when the survey was released in November, it appeared that 70% of respondents were aware of the new video streaming service, indicating a possible warm welcome.

The video experience worldwide

Mobile video experience was not all bad: last year’s video experience improved significantly in 59% of the 100 countries analyzed, the report found.

Users in 22 countries, including major markets such as Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and the UK, rated their mobile video experience as “very good”. Twenty-one other countries moved to the “good” category, and France saw the biggest leap, rising again, “reasonable” to “very good”, according to the report.

For the first time, six countries rated their mobile video quality as “excellent.” These countries include Norway, the Czech Republic, Austria, Denmark, Hungary and the Netherlands. No country rated “excellent” in 2018, the report found.

According to the report, the US includes in the “reasonable” category other major markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Russia.

Countries at the bottom for video experience, however, were high on the mobile download speed. South Korea is in the first place for download speed and yet in 21st place for video quality. And while Canadians had the third fastest download speed, it was also in 22nd place for video quality, the report said.

As stated in the report: “This contrast between results partially reflects the way in which wireless operators routinely manage mobile video traffic other than file downloads to prevent the huge amounts of video data from damaging the experience of other mobile apps and services.”

View for more information Should 5G be in your IT budget for 2020? on ZDNet.

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