Regulatory uncertainty holds back Europe's mobile TV market

Divergent frequency allocation schemes, uncertainty about standards and existing copyright fee structures are obstacles in the path of Europe's mobile TV services, according to the authors of "Mobile TV in Europe — Regulation and Business Models." The 2009 study, conducted by the Aalborg University Center for Communication, Media and Information in Denmark, examines several aspects of regulatory policy and their impact on Europe's infant mobile TV market, including technology neutrality and spectrum management, allocation of spectrum bands, decisions on standards to be implemented, copyright provisions, patent rules and must-carry regulations.

Of these issues, agreement on frequency allocation for mobile TV is the most urgent, the paper's authors say, because divergent standards increase costs for manufacturers and limit choices for consumers. "The design of terminals for pan-European use, especially with regard to the antenna, is very complicated and costly if a wide spread of spectrum will be used, because of different allocations in different countries. This, and also the uncertainty around the allocation decisions, will diminish the positive impact of a recommended pan-European standard."

Standards, DVB-T versus DVB-H, follow right behind frequency allocation as a potential mobile TV market impediment. "The success of the DVB family of standards is perfect evidence for how important it is to send a clear message to the European industry, creating optimal conditions for economies of scale … However, when it comes to DVB-H and digital TV, it is also important to learn the lessons from the failure of ‘interactive TV,’ which was partly the result of the fragmented picture of standards for the middleware and application programming interfaces. This again calls for common standards, including at the service level."

The full report can be downloaded from Aalborg University’s Web site.

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