Mobile video technology shows progress

With a potential billion-dollar market, European broadcasters couldn't help but be interested in how they could get involved. Yet, like their U.S. colleagues, several station representatives on the show floor said privately that they were taking a cautious approach, because consumers have not shown a viable desire to subscribe to such services. There have been a series of trials, by BSkyB in the U.K. and Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy, but many stations across Europe are still struggling with the migration to digital operations.

In spite of this, a wide range of interactive technologies and systems designed specifically for mobile video applications were in abundance at IBC this year.

At the show, a live demonstration of the DVB-H format was presented by the DVB Project to show the viability of its mobile video standard. QualComm's MediaFLO, the rival format in the United States, staged a demo at the Mobile TV area of the RAI convention center that displayed content played off of a server on cell phones from the Modeo service. In both cases, content was resized and formatted for display on a small screen.

Along with receiving and displaying video on cell phones, several manufacturers were showing technology that enabled consumers to send video from their cell phone cameras to their local stations. This included Chyron’s Wapster, a new application that leverages the company's CAMIO asset management MOS Newsroom Computer System (in conjunction with iNews, ENPS or Dalet) to insert live video or stills taken with a cell phone into a live news broadcast; Vizrt, with its Viz|MPS (multi-platform suite) technology for displaying live graphics on cell phones; and Createcna, showing a 3G Mobile system that allows live broadcasting of cell phone video on the Internet.

Some issues still remain to be solved before the industry embarks on full-scale deployments. During several panel discussions, industry experts and broadcasters said there was a real need for the development of a single standard, and that it was critical to develop mutually beneficial agreements with regional and local cell phone providers.

While the Open Mobile Alliance is working on a BCAST Specification to ensure interoperability among competing technologies, the latter might be the more challenging for stations, as telcos begin to offer video services of their own, in direct competition with broadcasters.