MediaFLO and DVB-H face off in Taiwan

11 Apr 2007

Qualcomm has fired its first shot in Asia in the mobile TV wars via announced plans to work with Taiwan's TTV and China Network Systems to test Qualcomm's MediaFLO technology.

The planned trial in Taipei will include seven live channels - four from China Network and three from TTV.

Not unexpectedly, Qualcomm sees it not only as another potential customer win under its belt (Verizon Wireless launched services in 19 US cities last month, while Cingular will launch its own service by the end of this year), but also a chance to showcase the technology in the Asia Pacific.

'We see the trial as an excellent opportunity to expand our MediaFLO business development efforts in Asia,' said Peggy Johnson, president of Qualcomm Internet Services and MediaFLO Technologies, in a statement.

Johnson also said that Taiwan was a good market to test in due to its 84% pay-TV penetration rate.

It's also a chance to go head-to-head against MediaFLO's chief rival, DVB-H, which is currently in three separate trials in Taipei.

The good news: initial reports are that Verizon's V Cast service works just fine. However, Qualcomm's learned the hard way that good-quality tech alone doesn't guarantee contract wins.
With the two biggest mobile TV markets - Korea and Japan - sewed up with S-DMB, T-DMB and/or ISDB-T, the rest of Asia is pretty much a free-for-all. But DVB-H has already got its foot in many doors, with 47 trials in 34 markets worldwide, including Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan. Vietnam's VTC was the first Asian market to go commercial with DVB-H last December, supplying nine TV channels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Mihn City.

Working in DVB-H's favor may be its standards-based approach, which promises economies of scale for equipment and terminals that proprietary standards like MediaFLO can't match. That said, with as many as nine mobile TV technologies jockeying for market share and no clear leader between them, a Pyramid Research report says the fractured market will make it 'difficult for equipment vendors to achieve economies of scale as they currently offer multiple versions of products to serve the market.'

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