New year will see new mobile trials, services in Asia

Vietnam is adopting Korea's mobile TV standard, DMB, reports the Korean daily Chosun Ilbo. Korean Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) business unit, DMBro, recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietnam's state-run TV and has been testing the DMB service in Hanoi since May 2008. DMBro and Vietnam TV affiliate Broadtech SC will work with Vietnam's three major telecoms to deploy the service countrywide. DMBro expects the service to draw five million subscribers within three years.

British mobile application developer weComm is launching its branded interactive mobile media service, miniV, in Beijing, China. In addition letting customers buy lottery and movie tickets, vote, shop, order food and buy custom vacation packages, miniV also offers around-the-clock, short-form mobile TV programming. WeComm produces a third of the company's video content, while the rest will be licensed from other sources. MiniV is available as both a monthly subscription and an on-demand model. The company is in talks with mobile operators to preinstall the client software in handsets.

In Taiwan, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) issued a proposal for issuing two mobile TV licenses, reports Wireless Design and Development. What makes this noteworthy is that the proposal doesn't specify a technical standard, a circumstance that makes author Charice Wang distinctly nervous. DVB-H and FLO are the most likely standards to be chosen, according to Wireless Design, even though the island's neighbors (China, Japan and South Korea) use CMMB, ISDB-T and DMB, respectively.

During 2007 and 2008, Taiwanese broadcasters conducted five mobile TV trials. The trial ended when the country's regulatory group failed to develop a clear mobile TV policy. For the current deployment, 3G operators are getting into the act, among them Taiwan Mobile and QUALCOMM, which already has a mobile TV joint venture with Cheng Uei Precision Industry.

In other news from Asia, a South Korean court advanced the penetration of mobile TV last week in a ruling that Seoul's cab drivers can have TVs in their dashboards, according to a BBC News report. Korean police say that, in 2008, TV watching was a factor in some 200 accidents. Front-seat TVs in taxis were prohibited in Seoul last year. The Korean court ruled that the regulation was illegal because it relied on a 1961 law that had been "superseded."

Mobile TV chipset maker DiBcom is getting some local U.S. marketing advice from ad agency Open2America in advance of January's CES Show. Although DiBcom currently doesn't offer chips supporting ATSC, inquiring minds wonder if the move signals a new offering from the French company. "We are pleased with the PR Open2America generated for us on the U.S. market," said DiBcom President Yannick Levy in an Open2America press release. "Open2America was a strong partner for us, positioning us within our target market." The agency offers something it calls "punctuated PR" that helps companies "make the most of their trade show investment."