Rival platform rips EU plan for mobile TV


BRUSSELS -- Backers of Digital Multimedia Broadcasting technology, who claim that it is the world's most successful mobile TV standard, have slammed the European Commission for its "unilateral" support of the DVB-H standard in Europe.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding last week backed the Nokia- and Motorola-supported DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds), which is Europe's most widely adopted of the three technologies that enable mobile TV.

But WorldDMB said Reding is putting the growth of the nascent mobile TV market at risk by ignoring the very experts she asked for advice a year ago.

"At the rate technology is evolving, it can only be dangerous and imprudent to mandate just one standard for Europe," WorldDMB president Quentin Howard said. "By limiting the flexibility of individual businesses and constraining the whole of Europe to just one platform, the commission risks stunting the growth of mobile TV and damaging what, by its own estimation, could be a €20 billion ($27.6 billion) market."

WorldDMB claims that its members across Europe -- including the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Denmark and Norway -- fear that mandating only DVB-H risks isolating Europe from the huge Asian markets of China and Korea, which already have adopted DMB for mobile TV.

Howard said that DVB-H uses UHF radio frequencies, and there simply isn't enough UHF spectrum available in many EU member countries until after the completion of the digital switchover -- a process that will take until 2012 to complete. He said that while DVB-H would have to wait up to five years for spectrum to become available in many countries, DMB -- developed jointly in South Korea and Germany -- would allow most European states to roll out mobile TV services immediately.

He added that interoperable silicon chips already have been developed so that years before DVB-H spectrum is available in some nation-states, receivers capable of accepting DAB, T-DMB and DVB-H via one chip will be available. Howard also pointed out that the EC's own consultation with industry players via the European Mobile Broadcasting Council -- which advocated platform neutrality for mobile TV in Europe -- was ignored in the rush to back DVB-H.

DMB users say it is the world's most successful mobile TV standard, already widely used in South Korea, and the only European technology for mobile TV sanctioned by China's state regulator.

In July, Italian public broadcaster RAI said that it had opted for DMB instead of DVB-H for mobile television services. And Stefano Ciccotti, chief executive of network provider RaiWay, said that a national DVB-H network would have cost €300 million ($414.3 million), while extending the existing DMB network in Italy would cost just €8 million ($11 million).
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