LONDON The European Commission has officially endorsed Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld (DVB-H) as the mobile TV technology of choice in Europe, and has told member states to "encourage" use of the technology.
The outcome is not a surprise as the Commission said last July that it wanted to mandate the standard for use throughout Europe. EU communications Commissioner Viviane Reding made it clear that if companies don't migrate to DVB-H she'll use regulatory measures to create an EU-wide standard based on DVB-H.
The directive does mean, however, that we are likely to see alternate standards being used for the fledgling service in different parts of the world.
The two largest operators in the U.S., Verizon Wireless and AT&T, for instance, are backing the Qualcomm Inc. backed MediaFLO technology, while in most countries of the Far East, as well as China, the favored format relies on DMB specifications.
The directive from Brussels Monday (March 17) also throws into doubt trials by Orange and T-Mobile about to start in the London area using NextWave Wireless Technologies TDtv system.
The TDtv technology was originally developed by IP Wireless, (Chippenham, England) which NextWave (San Diego, Calif.) bought last April. The technology pools spare capacity in both operators' UMTS networks to deliver a multicast service to handsets equipped with special chipsets.
The move also comes just days after the British regulator, Ofcom, revealed the timing for the auction of the 1452-1492 MHz L-band, one of the uses for which would be mobile TV in the frequency range irequired by the MediaFLO specification. It is also an essential part of the potential roll out of DAB/DAB+ and DMB services in Europe.
Ovum analyst Matthew Howett said the development and use of other technologies is still possible although EU backing for one standard creates "some certainty" for operators planning mobile broadcasting services and manufacturers making phones and chips.
The new directive states that "member States shall encourage the use of the standards and/or specifications", pointing out that DVB-H is now an endorsed standard.
"For Mobile TV to take off in Europe, there must first be certainty about the technology. This is why I am glad that with today's decision, taken by the Commission in close coordination with the Member States and the European Parliament, the EU endorses DVB-H as the preferred technology for terrestrial mobile broadcasting," said Reding.
She added EU-wide adoption of DVB-H will provide operators/industry with the necessary market scale to launch mass mobile TV services across the EU.
The Commission noted DVB-H is already the most widely used standard for mobile TV in the EU. DVB-H is currently between trials and commercial launch in 16 countries. Commercial DVB-H services are already available in Italy, with further launches expected later this year notably in Finland, Austria, France, Switzerland and Spain.
It also pointed out a transparent intellectual property rights regime, based on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and allowing low price of devices, is key to the success of Mobile TV. "The Commission will therefore continue to closely monitor progress made towards the constitution of the DVB-H patent pool."