Tuesday, March 18, 2008

BPN 1041 EC: DVB-H standard for mobile television

The European Commission decided to add the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld standard (DVB-H) to the EU List of Standards, which serves as a basis for encouraging the harmonised provision of telecommunications across the EU. The addition of DVB-H which has been developed by European industry, partly with the support of EU research funds is a new step towards establishing a Single Market for Mobile TV in Europe that will enable all EU citizens to watch TV on the move. Mobile TV could reach a market of up to € 20 billion by 2011, reaching some 500 million customers worldwide.

An EU-wide adoption of DVB-H will provide operators/industry with the necessary market scale to launch mass Mobile TV services across the EU. A European common standard will also benefit consumers, who will be able to watch TV on their own phones or mobile devices at any time, anywhere across Europe. After publication of the Commission decision in the EU List of Standards in the EU's Official Journal, Member States will be required to encourage the use of DVB-H. This clear support to the DVB family of standards is also an important signal given to third countries about to take a decision on the technology for digital and mobile broadcasting, using DVB-T, DVB-H and DVB-SH.

DVB-H is currently 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.

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.

Efficient procedures for authorising Mobile TV operators are essential for the fast take-up of the service. In February 2008, the Commission discussed best practice for Mobile TV authorisation with industry and Member States, asking for contributions on the issue from all stakeholders. Guidelines on best practice are currently under preparation to help Member States to deploy Mobile TV without delay. Light-touch regulation and clear licensing regimes will give industry the legal certainty they need to launch their Mobile TV services without undue impediments.

The Commission considers 2008 to be a crucial year for Mobile TV take-up in the EU due to important sports events, such as the European Football Championship and the Summer Olympic Games, which will provide a unique opportunity for raising consumers' awareness and for the adoption of new services.

DVB-H is the only standard used worldwide; it is now being tested or commercially available in 16 European countries. IN The Netherlands KPN is using the DVB-H standard to deliver a mobile tv service. But other local standards are used in South-Korea, Japan , China and the USA (Qualcomm). But in Europe not all countries are happy with the DVB-H standard. Countries like The Netherlands, Germany and UK think that the market should make the standard and not governments or supra national institutes. Alternatively use is made of UMTS, a technology for which companies ever paid billions of euro in order to acquire a frequency. In the Netherlands for example public broadcast has experimented with operator independent UMTS for livestreams and on demand video of the skating world championships in Nagano (Japan). It is a run up to mobile broadcasts of the Olympic Games.

For more background: IP/07/1118, MEMO/07/298 and IP/07/1815.

Blog Posting Number: 1041

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