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EU member states officially back DVB-H as pan-European mobile TV standard

The European Union (EU) is edging closer to a single standard for mobile TV. Last week, a majority of the member states officially endorsed a strategy put forth by the European Commission (EC) to accelerate the deployment of DVB-H-based mobile TV across the continent.

The endorsement means the EC can move forward with plans to make DVB-H mandatory throughout Europe. To that end, it has begun preparing guidelines for authorization procedures and the addition of DVB-H to the official list of standards. All 27 European member states will be required to support and encourage the standard once it is published to the list.

The EC’s strategy, first announced in July, calls for a joint approach to the licensing of mobile TV to accelerate the rollout of services and encourage innovative business models, making spectrum available for these services — possibly in the UHF frequency band. The EC is attempting to avoid market fragmentation by promoting a single-standard approach to mobile TV.

This approach has not been without controversy. When the EC first made its strategy for DVB-H public, industry groups backing competing standards accused it of trying to prevent healthy marketplace competition. Others noted that there are already receiver chips and transmission equipment in the market that could work with multiple standards and technologies, making the mandate of a single standard unnecessary.

The EC, however, seems intent on moving forward with its approach, and plans to have wide-scale mobile TV deployments in time for several major sporting events taking place next year, including the European Football Championship and the Summer Olympics. These events will be key to promoting mobile TV uptake among consumers, as well as the opportunity to create a lucrative Europe-based mobile TV industry.

Currently, South Korea and Japan have 20 million mobile TV customers, more than 30 times the number of users in the EU. In the eyes of the EC, the efforts they are undertaking to promote their own single standards around the world could threaten the growth of one of Europe’s most promising industries.

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