Russian mobile TV standards up in the air

First the good news: Mobile TV services from several companies are now making headway in Russia. It has been a long time coming, but acceptance is currently at an all-time high. The bad news is that carriers still can't decide on a standard, and a wave of incompatible options may do more harm than good.

Mobile TV services in Russia began in 2003 when the DVB-T standard was targeted to launch the industry there. One of DVB-T's selling points was that you could use it not only in mobile devices but also in cars, so vehicles with television sets could pick it up. Meanwhile, VimpelCom began testing trials of DVB-H through its company Dominant several years ago. And while trials have gone well, it's still not officially available as a commercial service even now. The Ministry of Communications handles requests for competitors to standardize, but until now, companies have not been competing, or requesting, for standards to be put in place.

This year, VimpelCom started implementing a new standard with completely different, and incompatible, technologies geared toward more traditional mobile TV and Internet. With so many standards, and such slow launches and rollouts, Russia remains stuck with incompatible standards that it really does need for widespread acceptance. DVB-H in particular is having a problem becoming a standard due to the increased cost associated with the reception equipment to implement it.

So for now, the Russia mobile TV standards do remain up in the air so to speak, however there is hope that one standard moves ahead in the coming year to break the gridlock and push acceptance along a wider path.