Unified front: Mobile firms set standard


Top mobile operators and handset makers on Thursday agreed to back a common standard for mobile television based on interoperable broadcast network technologies.

Handset manufacturers Nokia, Sony Ericsson and China's ZTE were backed by operators Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 Europe, Telefonica and KPN in supporting the protocols known as OMA BCAST. The agreement means the industry can rally around a technology that supports both 3G's MBMS service and the radio spectrum broadcast market leader Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H).

The nascent mobile TV industry is struggling to settle on key technologies and standards to secure customer confidence. Operators, handset makers and broadcasters also are waiting for agreed formats to emerge before unleashing investments in a sector that analysts say could be worth $15.2 billion globally by 2009.

The operators and manufacturers said the new standard — the Open Mobile Alliance's Mobile Broadcast Services Enabler Suite (BCAST) — will be developed within lobbying association the Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum to ensure interoperability among different technologies.

The agreement also settles standards on advanced interactive services, support for multiple broadcast technologies and content and service protection using the Smart Card Profile or Digital Rights Management.

Nokia multimedia director Jouni Kamarainen said agreement on mobile TV standards can be compared to the development of GSM for mobile phones. "The great commitment in the industry for a clear implementation profile is essential in launching mobile TV services on a global scale," he said.

KPN innovation manager Franklin Selgert added that the agreement could give a clear technological direction to the industry. "This should help all players speed up the delivery of attractive services on a growing range of affordable, high-quality handsets," Selgert said.