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Compressed video coming to smartphones soon

15 March 2014, 08:34Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - One of the main traffic drivers on the internet is video, but rich media content traditionally takes up an inordinate amount of bandwidth.

However, a software company plans to bring low cost video to developing markets with a compression technology that should reductions of up to 90% of the data footprint.

"On smartphones, people start doing other things than what they do on feature phones. When people get smartphones they start being a little bit more advanced - they start watching a lot of video," Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software told News24.

His claim is well backed up by research from several sources, including Cisco.

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, mobile video made up 53% of record internet data traffic in 2013.


The increase in video content consumption has placed strain on some mobile networks, resulting in strategies like shaping data or a poor user experience when watching videos on mobile devices.

"The bandwidth video takes is just incredible. Mobile carriers’ networks are not really made for smartphones, and certainly not made for when people start watching video," said Boilesen.

The company is well known for compressing web pages, and Boilesen said that it was on the brink of delivering compressed video in markets like South Africa.

"We have developed video compression in the browser and this will be launched in a few months in South Africa - so it's coming."

Opera on Wednesday updated its browser to increase security and privacy, and Boilesen hinted that delivering video compression would keep the company relevant as it looked beyond feature phones.

"We saw this coming two three years ago and obviously we wanted to stay relevant when our users moved to smartphones. The unique offering we have on smartphones; it's coming, though it's not been launched yet - is video compression."

Data footprint

Smartphones are widely accepted to be fundamentally superior to feature phones because of the flexibility they offer the user. The smart devices also generate a massive data footprint, compared to previous generation phones.

According the Cisco report, smartphones only represent 27% of global handsets, but generated a massive 95% of mobile data in 2013.

"In 2013, the typical smartphone generated 48 times more mobile data traffic (529MB per month) than the typical basic feature cellphone (which generated only 11MB per month of mobile data traffic)," the report says.

Compression technology could add significant savings to users' mobile bill. Opera says that because of its compression technology, users saved around $1bn in data costs during 2013.

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