European Commission backs DVB-H standard

Move seeks to push mobile broadcasting

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission on Monday made mobile TV technology Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds, or DVB-H, the official EU standard, a move that is expected to push broadcasters, operators and handsetmakers to speed efforts to introduce mobile broadcasting across Europe.

The commission said only a common European standard will create a pan-European mobile TV market, and it urged industry to quickly settle any outstanding issues over interoperability and intellectual property rights. "For mobile TV to take off in Europe, there must first be certainty about the technology," EU Media and Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding said.

In legislative terms, making DVB-H an official standard is similar to the method the EU used in the early 1990s to set the GSM standard for mobile phones -- an approach that eventually gave Europe a global lead in the cellphone market.

In practical terms, EU governments can encourage the take-up of DVB-H by promoting the standard in attributing licenses. However, while DVB-H is now a standard, it is non-mandatory. Big EU governments such as Germany, Britain, Spain and the Netherlands argued that it should be left to the market to decide which technology emerges in the end.

The Commission also asked EU governments to make spectrum available for mobile broadcasting as quickly as possible, including in the UHF band as it becomes available.

The DVB-H standard is backed by handsetmakers Nokia, Motorola, Philips, Sagem, Sony, Ericsson and Samsung as well as operators Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile. It is the most widely used standard for mobile TV in the EU.