The former 19th century slave turned US statesman, Frederick Douglass, famously pointed out that: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”. What will always be interesting about the digital broadcast sector is how quickly it is evolving, especially in the Middle East, struggling to meet the needs of the future. Even as we went to print, we received word that UAE mobile operator du had partnered with OTT provider icflix to provide content via mobile devices.
Just a few short years ago the idea of streaming media to mobile phones would have seemed implausible globally, yet alone in the Middle East, which received its first 3G mobile network in Bahrain as recently as 2003.
Now, with 4G networks becoming mainstream in the region, we examine in this issue the opportunities and challenges inherent to video delivery over mobile networks (page 11). This, of course, is part of a broader uptake in internet connectivity that has seen IPTV become a major force alongside the more traditional broadcast distribution channels of satellite and cable. With this in mind, we also look at the TV experience of the future (page 26): what will television consumption, the broadcasting of that content and the content itself look like in the next six years?
While demand for constant connectivity and ever-higher bandwidth is growing exponentially, in the region and around the world events are afoot that are also challenging local and international news channels’ ability to report from the frontline of the major stories of the day.
In this issue, Digital Broadcast examines the new technologies that are making it cheaper and easier for news stations to deploy reporters to hot spots in Iraq and Syria to bring viewers the story in some of the most adverse and hostile conditions imaginable (page 12).
Such innovations are especially relevant to the Middle East when one considers that in this issue alone we have reported on the imminent launch of two new news stations in Bahrain and Kuwait, which both seek to balance the dominance of Al Jazeera. Competition is good for any industry, as is change. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often” is what Winston Churchill said, and right now, there is a lot of change occurring in digital broadcasting.