Swisscom still planning DVB-H network launch in Switzerland

Despite the withdrawal of partners Orange and Sunrise, the operator still aims to launch the mobile TV network in time for the UEFA championship.
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Swisscom is moving forward with the launch of its mobile TV network in Switzerland, despite the recent withdrawal of its two main partners in the project, Sunrise and Orange. The operator aims to have the service up and running in time for the UEFA EURO 2008 soccer championship, taking place next June in Switzerland and Austria.

Swisscom, Sunrise and Orange piloted a mobile TV service based on the DVB-H standard late in 2006, and subsequently agreed to cooperate on a commercial launch of the service. In September 2007, Switzerland’s equivalent of the FCC, ComCom, awarded SwissCom what is currently the only nationwide license for mobile TV based on the DVB-H standard. Sunrise and Orange pulled out of the project not long after, on “short notice,” according to a statement from Swisscom.

None of the companies have commented publicly on the reasons for the withdrawal of Sunrise and Orange, but it is possibly due to financial factors, as well as low consumer demand for a mobile TV service. In a statement, Swisscom noted it expected to spend “tens of millions” of Swiss francs to launch the service, and took pains to assert that there was a “growing customer demand for digital-quality mobile TV” in the country.

Currently, Swisscom is working to build out the transmission network for the service, aiming to provide approximately 45 percent of the Swiss population with access to mobile TV in time for the UEFA championship. At first, it will offer the service only in cities where the matches are taking place, including Berne, Basle, Zurich and Geneva, with plans to expand to other cities and towns later. To launch this phase, Swisscom is installing roughly 26 transmitters at existing antenna sites near or in the cities.

Swisscom’s core offer will comprise approximately 20 broadcast TV channels, as well as made-for-mobile content. Customers are already able to view video on their mobile devices, using a UTMS network created by the operator. However, Swisscom thinks that it is necessary to launch a DVB-H network to avoid capacity bottlenecks as demand increases.

For more information, visit www.swisscom.com.