European Commission picks Nokia standard for mobile television

Europe has adopted DVB-H, the mobile television standard backed by Nokia, as the region’s designated technology. Mobile operators called the action too hasty.

The European Commission said setting the Digital Video Broadcasting Handheld (DVB-H) as the preferred European Union standard would give the industry a boost. “For mobile TV to take off in Europe, there must first be certainty about the technology,” European Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said last week.

DVB-H is the only standard with a global presence although South Korea, Japan, the United States and China are embracing local rivals, such as one set by U.S. company QUALCOMM.

Reding said Europe’s decision sent “an important signal” to other countries preparing to decide whether to opt for DVB-H or other standards. EU countries will now be required to encourage the use of DVB-H.

Some EU member states, such as Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, had been opposed to setting DVB-H as the single standard in the bloc. But Reding said it was the one most widely used in Europe and is between trials and commercial launch in 16 countries.

The GSM Association representing mobile operators in Europe said it was staying neutral on mobile TV technology as it should be the market that decides on the standard. “An official endorsement does carry weight but it’s not clear if DVB-H is necessarily the best standard,” a GSM Association spokesman said.

Broadcasters called the standard “irrelevant,” asking which standards will pay their way. “How do you design a compelling service that people will want? Even if it’s free and financed by advertising, how many ads do people want to see on a small screen?" said Ross Biggam, director general of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe.

Most countries have seen trials of mobile TV, such as sports, news and music videos although Italy is one of the rare EU states with a commercial-type service running, Biggam said.