PLDT, Smart push ‘video for all’ amid surge in data use

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Digital and telecoms leader PLDT and its mobile subsidiary Smart Communications have put video content at the cutting edge of their digital strategy, as rising consumer appetite for video services drives the rapid growth of data usage both at home and through smartphones.

“We call it ‘Video for All’.  We are offering the widest range of video services running on broadband through the most flexible and convenient means.  We are serving all windows of video content at various time intervals from date of original release — from linear viewing, to catch-up TV, TVOD, and SVOD — and now, through VR devices,” said PLDT and Smart executive vice president and head of consumer business Ariel P. Fermin.

“We are doing this because people are increasingly turning to video when they go online.  Video is driving consumer engagement and boosting mobile data usage,” he added.

Since last year, PLDT has launched a series of video services on both its fixed and mobile networks. It started with the country’s first IPTV (Internet Protocol television) service, with Cignal TV content on both Fibr and DSL services.

Through its Viewstream Android app, Smart also offers ‘catch-up’ viewing of top Fox channels like Fox Sports, National Geographic, Fox News, among others.

Smart also offers Blink, which is TVOD (transactional video on demand), an option where customers can access their choice of movies or TV shows on a per title basis.

PLDT then introduced subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service iFlix – now Southeast Asia’s leading Internet TV service with over a million subscribers in the Philippines alone — on both its fixed and mobile networks.

Next, PLDT made its video services available on both postpaid and prepaid mobile services, in 30-day subscriptions. For a frictionless experience, Smart subscribers can instantly watch iFlix on their smartphone without having to sign up or sign in.

iFlix users also enjoy the convenience of offline viewing – they can download movies and series episodes to their handsets and keep them for up to seven days, and have the freedom to watch these offline, wherever they are and whenever they have time, for up to three days.

To provide even greater flexibility in the use of video services, PLDT introduced data sharing between postpaid fixed accounts and Smart postpaid lines. Smart also started offering data sharing between mobile postpaid lines.

As a result of these initiatives, PLDT’s mobile data traffic has soared.

“Last year, we saw mobile data traffic in our network more than double, to close to about 100,000 terabytes by the end of 2015, and we know that a large share of that traffic was video,” said Fermin.

PLDT’s mobile data revenues have also jumped to P10.4 billion in 2015 from P8.2 billion in the previous year.

Most recently, Smart announced that it will offer Samsung’s newest and most advanced smartphones – Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge – bundled with the Samsung Gear VR. The state-of-the-art virtual reality headset instantly transports users into 3D and CG animated worlds, complete with 180 or 360-degree live action scenes – for an immersive and interactive viewing and gaming experience.

“This is another layer of our commitment to deliver the richest digital experience, via video,” Fermin added.

As they move to encourage the ever increasing demand for mobile video, PLDT and Smart are also boosting its network capacity to meet the rising demand for more bandwidth.

PLDT allocated P43 billion for capital expenditure in 2015 and has set aside the same amount for this year.

“We are actively pursuing all fronts – the network, the services, the subscription models, down to the devices — in order to allow our customers to have the best possible mobile data experience and enjoy, share, promote, and even create videos,” Fermin said.

By April Kagawan

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