The next couple of years will witness the delivery of mobile TV in Europe over a variety of standards and technologies, including DAB, T-DMB, DVB-H and cellular multicasting.
However, as the market matures, the need to migrate mobile TV delivery to a common and more capable platform will see the emergence of DVB-H as the preferred standard, says Frost and Sullivan ICT industry analyst Pranab Mookken.
'The fight for the mobile TV standard in Europe will be won not by the first standard introduced in the market, but by the most efficient, economical and future-ready one, even if [DVB-H] is a few years down in line,' Mookken says. 'DVB-H is likely to become the European standard and delivery mechanism for mobile TV in Europe by 2010 as it perfectly complements the existing digital TV standard and is likely to solve the spectrum allocation issues in the preferred UHF band.'
The completion of migration from analogue to digital standards across Europe will create demand for the DVB-H UHF spectrum. Due to its synergies and ability to backward integrate with its fixed terrestrial counterpart digital video broadcast-terrestrial (DVB-T), DVB-H is the only standard having the capacity to accommodate the mature mobile TV market of the future.
Also, the availability of DVB-H UHF spectrum coincides with the period when existing 3G operators in Europe would be nearing subscription maturity on their cellular networks and looking to migrate their video services to a complimentary network for the future.
Despite its manifold advantages, competition for DVB-H could rise from South Korea's satellite-DMB and terrestrial-digital media broadcast (T-DMB) services. These two standards have divided the South Korean communications industry. The key difference between S-DMB and T-DMB is that while the former uses a combination of satellite and terrestrial repeaters to transmit, the latter uses only a densely covered terrestrial tower network. S-DMB transmission has limited industry support and the use of a dense network of terrestrial towers also provides a much more affordable option for mobile TV than the use of satellites.
'Since they are already available, broadcasters and operators may consider the use of DAB-IP and T-DMB delivery mechanisms for the interim period before the introduction of DVB-H,' says Mookken. 'Also, successful trials over DAB-IP and a readily available mobile TV packaged product from BT Movio could tempt operators to experiment with these alternatives.'
While evaluating standards that mobile operators are likely to use, service providers need to decide where and how well mobile TV (and other broadcast services) fit into their larger company goals. They also need to adopt technologies and standards, which allow for easy migration and evolution.