South Africa: Commission Backs Nokia's Mobile TV Standard

Technology & Convergence

The European Commission (EC) announced last week its backing of Nokia's DVB-H mobile broadcast TV standard. Independent market analyst Datamonitor considers that the development will notably aide in the mass-adoption of mobile broadcast TV services as a whole but that it might come at the price of reducing open market competition.

Chris Khouri, media and broadcasting analyst at Datamonitor, says that Datamonitor estimates Europe will have 42.7 million mobile broadcast TV subscribers in 2012 - making it the second largest subscriber base in the world after Asia Pacific.

Mobile broadcast television has the opportunity to combine two of the most successful consumer products in history; television and mobile telephony. However, since the early part of the decade there has been a number of competing formats that have arisen with respect to bearer technologies, including MediaFLO, DMB, DAB-IP and DVB-H.

Each of these bearer formats has significant actors backing their adoption looking to generate revenue from their success. In an effort to homogenise the market, the EC is tackling fragmentation by promoting "a common European strategy" in an effort to "enable consumers and industry to reap the full benefits of economies of scale."

While DVB-H bearer technology provides an extremely attractive open standard akin to the current European terrestrial television infrastructure, the move potentially comes as a blow to an industry led competitive marketplace. MediaFlo, DMB and DAB-IP have all been trialled throughout Europe and the market was expected to harmonize through technological innovation and chipset interoperability sometime in the near term.

Irrespective of bearer technology, Datamonitor considers that some of the biggest concerns facing the adoption of the service still reside with consumer education. Promoting public understanding and illustrating consumer benefits will be a must for market players to ensure that mobile broadcast TV is a success and not just the next expensive flop.

(Biz-Community (Cape Town), 22 November 2007)