By Fabrice Coquio, managing director of Interxion France
Global demand for content – including OTT content, gaming, streaming, social networks… -explodes, boosted by the exponential growth of smartphone use. In the United States, where this trend has been confirmed since 2015, the smartphone is now used in 51% of Internet connections, way ahead of the computer (42%). This trend prevails even more in the emerging markets of Asia, Middle East and Africa.
Africa, where mobile is prominent
In Africa, the smartphone is increasingly spreading. The WAP traffic, which is used by conventional mobile phones, has been halved in the last two years, thus indicating the progressive smartphone adoption over the entire continent. In parallel, the mobile video consumption has been multiplied by two in Africa between 2015 and 2016. This is particularly true in South Africa: according to a survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the country registered in 2016 the second largest annual growth in video consumption through smartphones in the world (42%), right after the United States (50%).
On the entire African continent, there is also a strong demand for OTT content, which is constrained only by bandwidth availability issues. Once infrastructure investment and mobile offer prices will be solved, – these topics were at the heart of the TMT Finance Africa conference, held in South Africa in March – then Africa will be able to break the glass ceiling, and the OTT content consumption coming from the United States or Europe will grow to reach its cruising speed, from 2022 onwards. Revenues from VOD, with a penetration rate of 5.4% in 2017, and an expected growth of 8% by 2021, is expected to double in Africa, from $260 million today to $452 million over the same period.
In the Middle East, social networks are the gateway for content operators
Middle East is characterized by a more concentrated telecom infrastructure, allowing a digital content consumption with more frequency, and higher quality: in 2017, the penetration rate for mobile subscriptions was 116% (compared to 106% in Northern America and 81% in Africa). While cross-border data flows have been multiplied by 150 between 2005 and 2015, experts agree to state that the Middle-East still under-exploits its digitalization capacities.
Today, content consumption in the Middle-East and Northern Africa is primarily oriented towards video, preferably short and watched through streaming platforms: 70% of surveyed people living in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE watch videos posted on social networks through their mobile every week, and 69% of them declare their smartphone as their preferred device to watch video content.
In Asia, demand for gaming and sport contents explodes
Asia is made of a lot of diverse realities and uses, depending on the countries. Broadly speaking, the continent is the first online video consumer in the world (40 billion of hours in 2016 out of 80 billion in the entire world).
In parallel, online mobile gaming revenues for South-Eastern Asia have increased exponentially by approximately 500% between 2013 and 2017, from $213 million to $1.264 billion. Sport-related content consumption is, finally, constantly on the rise: in 2017, it concerned a market estimated of more than 300 million users, for a total revenue of $700 million. These trends are expected to grow over the upcoming years: by 2020, about three quarters of the continent’s inhabitants will own a mobile phone, with 600 million of new users only over the period 2015-2020.
The challenge of content distribution to these markets
Particularly well located, at the crossroads of subsea and terrestrial telecom cables, true information highways, the city of Marseille is today the key content hub across the Mediterranean. It allows to link the heart of the European digital production – Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris and, beyond, the United States – to Africa, the Middle East and Asia, with disruptive latency times, and based on a resilient, effective, reliable and scalable network and data centre infrastructure.
Today, Marseille concentrates platforms for content distribution towards Northern Africa, the Gulf region, Asia. It attracts several economic players, far beyond the national scale. In Marseille, the deployment stakes are related to the digital giants and the other global economic players, who are mostly already presents in the city.
Interxion, with its carrier-neutral data centre campus, continues to reinforce its position in Marseille, by providing the necessary layer of infrastructure to allow these exchanges to grow, thus ensuring these new needs are answered. The objective is simple: supporting international and national economic players in the development of priority and fast-growing markets.
Hear more from Interxion’s Fabrice Coquio (Managing Director, France) at Submarine Networks World 2018 (24-26 September, Suntec Singapore) where he’ll be sharing a presentation on ‘From project to reality: off-the-shelf cable landing station in Marseille”.