Global Economics

Mobile TV Row in Brussels


Nokia-backed video digital technology stands to profit from a controversial European Commission decision to back it as the single standard

The European Commission has thrown its weight behind mobile TV by backing the DVB-H technology to become the single standard for the continent.

But there are concerns this could stifle competition in the market and reduce innovation.

By promoting the Nokia -- backed DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds) technology, EC intends to reduce fragmentation and accelerate the uptake of mobile TV across its member states.

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media said Europe needs to take the lead with mobile TV by backing a single standard -- as it did with GSM in the 1990s -- or risk other regions getting ahead.

But industry commentators say other mobile TV platforms such as the Qualcomm-backed MediaFLO and DAB-IP, as used by Virgin Mobile, should not be ignored.

Analyst house Datamonitor said the EC's strategy will not aid the mass adoption of mobile TV and will reduce open market competition.

Associate analyst Chris Khouri told silicon.com: "We were hoping that mobile formats could coexist through chipset interoperability."

He added it is not yet clear whether one technology is superior with each offering a different number of channels and with different spectrum requirements.

DVB-H for example needs spectrum currently used by analogue television broadcasters in the UK which will only become available following the digital switchover in 2012.

Khouri said: "It's [the ECs approach] kind of jumping the gun a bit."

Telecoms consultancy Analysys said mobile TV should be driven by consumer needs and a competitive landscape rather than through government backing.

Jim Morrish, consultant at Analysys told silicon.com: "Other technologies have natural zones of advantage. And that's something the industry has to deal with, it's not an EU intervention or regulatory management at all."

Omar Javaid, VP of global strategy and business development for Qualcomm MediaFLO said the company believes in fair competition in Europe to encourage the development of innovative technologies and new networks.

European mobile TV take-up has been slow compared to other regions but the Commission predicts the market could be worth €20bn globally by 2011.

Provided by silicon.com—Driving Business Through Technology

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