Many mobile TV options 'lack viability'

Mobile television may not be as lucrative as anticipated despite the predicted mass popularity of the burgeoning medium, according to a new study from global communications adviser Analysys.

The company's latest report, Evaluating the Options for Mobile TV and Radio Broadcasting in Western Europe, claims that only a small number of broadcasting technology choices will be financially viable, even though up to half a billion subscribers to mobile TV services have recently been forecast for the near future.

There is a "strong chance", says the paper, that mobile phone users will not spend significant amounts on mobile TV and radio services, or indeed video-on-demand and other broadcasting options.

Therefore, operators may want to exercise prudence when considering the choice of technology available. Media and telecoms companies throughout western Europe are currently considering systems such as Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H), Digital Audio Broadcasting-Internet Protocol (DAB-IP), Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (T-DMB), TDtv or, even, enhanced 3G networks.

Once this decision has been made, firms must decide whether to build their own networks or share the cost and risk with other operators and/or broadcasters.

A co-author of the Analysys report, Dr Alastair Brydon, offered a note of caution for small operators, saying they will have a "very limited choice of viable options" and sharing "will be essential" if they are to "yield attractive returns" with DAB-IP or DVB-H technology.

However, despite being potentially the cheapest solution, DAB-IP is only appropriate in the few markets where Digital Audio Broadcasting has been deployed extensively—and only a limited range of DAB handsets and broadcast channels may be available.

Larger mobile operators wanting to own broadcasting networks have more options, says Analysys, and the most viable is either building a DVB-H network—technology that is currently attracting interest from many mobile operators in western Europe—or upgrading a 3G network to TDtv.

Report co-author Dr Mark Heath said: "TDtv would allow mobile operators to reuse existing cellular base stations and operate in already-licensed Time Division Duplex (TDD) spectrum, making it considerably cheaper".

Lovelace Consulting  |  05.07.2006

Previous story  |  Next story