Europe News: EU Commission pushes for Nokia’s DVB-H technology as standard for mobile TV

Europe News:  EU Commission pushes for Nokia’s DVB-H technology as standard for mobile TV

The European Commission is urging all 27 Member States and the industry to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of mobile TV across Europe and to encourage the use of DVB-H as the single European standard for mobile TV.

According to Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society & Media, Europe is at a crossroads, where it can either take the lead globally – as it did for mobile telephony based on the GSM standard developed by the European industry – or allow other regions take the lion's share of the promising mobile TV market.

“Wait-and-see is not an option,” says Reding. “The time has come for Europe's industry and governments to switch on to mobile TV.”

To date, the introduction and take-up of mobile TV in the EU has been slow, while Europe's competitors have progressed significantly. Unless Europe takes concrete action immediately, it risks losing its competitive edge. For example, the mobile TV penetration rate of South Korea, Asia's most developed mobile TV market, is close to 10%. Yet penetration in Italy, the EU's most advanced market, is still less than 1%.

The Commission is strongly committed to the success of mobile TV, which could become a market of up to €20 billion by 2011, reaching some 500 million customers worldwide.

The Commission sees the Communication on Strengthening the Internal Market for Mobile TV as crucial to creating jobs and business opportunities for content creators, service providers and hardware manufacturers, and bringing new value-added services to citizens.

Three key success factors have been identified by the Commission for mobile TV take-up:

Standards / interoperability:
The Commission will promote consensus around a common standard, to reduce market fragmentation caused by multiple technical options for mobile TV transmission. DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds) technology is currently the strongest contender for future mobile TV, with successful commercial launches and trials in eighteen European countries, and increasingly worldwide. The Commission will therefore encourage its use in all 27 Member States. It will also monitor market developments over the next months and, if necessary and appropriate, will mandate the use of DVB-H.

The Commission calls upon Member States to make spectrum available for mobile broadcasting as quickly as possible, including in the UHF band (470-862 MHz) as it becomes available, which is considered the most suitable spectrum for mobile multimedia services due to its technical characteristics. The Commission has also initiated the opening to mobile TV services of another frequency band, the so-called L-band (1452-1492 MHz) as a fallback solution.

A favourable regulatory environment:
National approaches to regulating mobile TV vary considerably at the moment, which generates regulatory uncertainty across the EU. The Commission considers that mobile TV is a nascent service and as such should benefit from "light touch" regulation. It will organise an exchange of best practice and provide guidance for a coherent framework for mobile TV authorisation regimes.

2008 is considered by the Commission as a crucial year for mobile TV take-up in the EU, due to important sports events that will provide a unique opportunity for raising consumers' awareness and for the adoption of new services.

In March 2006 the Commission encouraged setting up a European Mobile Broadcasting Council (EMBC) to promote mobile TV in Europe. It gathered players from the telecommunications, hardware manufacturers and the software, broadcasting and content industries. However, EMBC failed to agree on industry led-solutions. This is why the Commission has now decided to intervene, and to actively support the take-up of mobile TV in Europe.

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