Europe decides on mobile TV standard

The EC has adopted Nokia’s standard for mobile television, but mobile operators claim Brussels is acting too quickly.

Europe decides on mobile TV standard

The Commission says setting the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld (DVB-H) as the preferred European Union standard will give the industry a boost.

“For mobile TV to take off in Europe, there must first be certainty about the technology,” says European telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding.

DVB-H is the only standard with a global presence, although South Korea, Japan, the United States and China are embracing local rivals, such as the one set by US company Qualcomm.

The European Union executive says its decision sent “an important signal” to other countries preparing to decide whether to opt for DVB-H or other standards.

EU countries will now be required to encourage the use of DVB-H, the Commission says.

Some EU member states, such as Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, had been opposed to setting DVB-H as the single standard in the bloc.

But the EU executive says it is the one most widely used in Europe and is between trials and commercial launch in 16 countries.

The GSM Association representing mobile operators in Europe says it was staying neutral on mobile TV technology as it should be the market that decides on the standard.

“An official endorsement does carry weight but it’s not clear if DVB-H is necessarily the best standard,” says a GSM Association spokesman.

Broadcasters claim the question of which standard is being endorsed is almost irrelevant as the fundamental issue was whether mobile television packages would pay their way.

“How do you design a compelling service that people will want? Even if it’s free and financed by advertising, how many ads do people want to see on a small screen?” asks Ross Biggam, director general of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe.

Most countries have seen trials of mobile TV, such as sports, news and music videos although Italy is one of the rare EU states with a commercial-type service running, Biggam says.

The Commission hopes this year’s soccer European Championship and the Olympic Games will boost consumer take-up of television services over mobile phones, a potential new money-spinner for telecoms operators and broadcasters.

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