These are interesting times in the Nigeria Mobile Market turf. Glo and MTN are engaging themselves to establish dominance with product and commercial launch of 3G.At any opportunity, both network providers are quick to market 3G with promises of what it can do.

Looking from what obtains presently with Wap, gprs and other multimedia services usage level presently in Nigeria, it will not be out of place to show concern about how operators intend to develop and drive usage of 3g which is highly content driven. Though some of the contents might run too on present networks but are best experienced on a 3G because it offers more for media bandwidth intensive contents. 

Countries that made headway in 3G presents a very good example of what we should be emulating. Taiwan is an example of 3G success. Taiwan with Nokia’s help, set up its first mobile services development centre with focus on developing 3G mobile contents and services. Now, 3G is already well established with opportunity to experiment with rich diversified services offered by the technologies.

Revenues from 3g services come from two sources, the traffic generated by content and charges for content itself. According to UMTS forum, by year 2010, total operator-retained revenue will be over 300 billion dollars for generated 3G services. Nigeria 3G market should be well aligned and positioned to benefit too.

The Nigerian regulator, NCC, should bring together industry players to pursue strategic content initiatives and bring to market, innovative 3g content and services. The NCC should aim to bring operators together and chart a way forward thereby accelerating the adoption of the technology. The target audience should be mobile operators, application developers, content providers, content aggregators, systems integrators and equipment vendors. The national regulator will play a vital role in content development by working closely with privately owned IT and telecoms training institutes, research and development centers, to develop curriculum that will address the upcoming opportunities and thereby reducing capital flight through content that are offshore developed or foreign owned.

The objective is that since downloading or streaming of video content is the main driver of 3G usage and to attract subscribers and enterprises to use this technology, the NCC should put incentives in place for the development and launch of new 3g content and services that fully exploit the capabilities of the 3g platform.

The success of the 3g will increase the demand for mobile data services and thus leading to higher 3G usage which leads to higher ARPU’s for the mobile operators. NCC need to start sensitizing content providers on the following services that can be money spinner for 3g,namely, online multimedia, gaming, multimedia messaging, video chat, mobile matchmaking, multimedia content delivery, surveillance, remote monitoring, mobile marketing and location specific information delivery services.

For the mobile operators, in the real business sense, 3g is important but nonetheless secondary. Voice remains the cash cow and killer application on the networks presently. They will need to develop an investment program whereby it will develop strategic investment opportunities with content aggregators and providers. They should invest in and partner with innovative content providers to develop innovative content distribution channels, mobile communities and other rich content that was not previously possible in a 2g world. Operators need to target all market segments, though some may not generate revenue as much as expected but what is important is to create an entire environment where mobile phone is used for a variety of purposes.

The choices open to operators is to either develop in-house content, therefore becoming providers of bundled lifestyle content with the advantage of big brand tie –ins. Second alternative is to work with independent content aggregators but without the advantage of brand tie-ins because most content developers tend to reach out to more than one operator for same content. The reason is not far fetched, present revenue share propositions will definitely be a disadvantage in the highly content driven 3g market.

A transition to 3g service will mean that phones have ceased being mere communications devices and will have taken on many of the characteristics of the rich content technologies like cable and internet. While government supports the development of innovative new communications services which provide access to the internet, mobile TV and Video clips, and the content services may also potentially carry offensive or harmful content and there will be need to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to protect under age persons from exposure to such harmful contents. Safeguards might just be similar to those in place for traditional media. 

Finally without operators investing in the appropriate infrastructures and taking a more holistic view of the content marketing function, the content on offer will unlikely engage subscribers and build the desired levels of demand. The whole world is watching if Nigerians will take advantage of the multi billion Naira Nollywood industry to develop Nigerian centric content for the Mobile phone market.

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