WorldDMB Responds to EU Communication on European Mobile TV

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
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Europe risks impeding growth of mobile TV market – Commissioner Reding ignores own expert advice – Insistence on single technology threatens European jobs and investment

London — In a statement issue today (July 18) entitled “Strengthening the Internal Market for Mobile TV,” the Commission of the European Communities said it would “encourage the implementation of DVB-H” for mobile TV reception in Europe, adding that “agreeing on a common standard would provide advantages for European consumers and industry.”

Members of World DMB – the international, non-governmental organisation tasked with promoting the awareness, adoption and implementation of Eureka 147 based technologies worldwide – continue to be mystified by the Commission’s continued unilateral support of DVB-H for mobile television in Europe, apparently to the exclusion of all other mobile TV standards, including those developed by European industry.

T-DMB, an ETSI standard developed from the European-funded Eureka project, and a derivative of DAB, has already been used for broadcasting mobile TV services in 14 European countries. It is the world’s most successful mobile TV standard with millions of devices already in the market. It is widely used in Korea, and is the only European technology for mobile TV sanctioned by China’s state regulator.

Commission ignored counsel

The Commission’s communication notes that it has consulted with “all main industry players” via an industry group, the European Mobile Broadcasting Council (EMBC). What it doesn’t say is that it then ignored the counsel of the EMBC which advocated platform neutrality and recommended that the market should be allowed to decide for itself which technologies are best suited for broadcasting television, radio and data to mobile devices in Europe. It has also ignored the advice of device manufacturers who say that the need for only one technology is unnecessary as multi-standard devices are already available. Instead, the communication says that by adding DVB-H to the list of standards published in the Official Journal of the European Union, “Member States will be required to encourage the use of DVB-H for mobile TV,” and that in 2008 it could take “steps to make an open standard (i.e. DVB-H) mandatory.”

Quentin Howard, President of WorldDMB, says: “We, like most of the industry, have always advocated a multi-standard approach including DMB and DVB-H. WorldDMB and the DVB Forum are already collaborating because we recognise this is the only way Europe’s citizens will be able to enjoy a variety of mobile services within the timescale the Commission would like. Europe’s citizens and economy will not benefit from EC intervention that restricts technology and innovation.”

Mandating DVB-H risks isolating Europe

WorldDMB members from across Europe including the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Denmark and Norway question whether the Commission has, in fact, failed to realise that mandating only DVB-H risks isolating Europe when the huge Asian markets of China and Korea – where most of Europe’s mobile phones are manufactured – have already adopted DMB for mobile TV. Indeed, just last week, Italian public broadcaster RAI announced it has opted for DMB instead of DVB-H for mobile television services. Stefano Ciccotti, chief executive of network provider RaiWay said that a national DVB-H network would have cost €300 million. Extending the existing DMB network in Italy would cost just €8 million.

Commission fails to address barriers to interoperability

One of the Commission’s key requirements is the desire for interoperability, i.e. the ability of a mobile TV device to work seamlessly in all 27 EU States. Quentin Howard says: “Interoperability is an ideal which has little to do with the old fashioned ideas about a single technology. One indisputable fact is that spectrum is not available in every state for the DVB-H standard. But perhaps the biggest challenge to interoperability will be the different encryption standards selected by various EU states and telecoms operators.” The Commission has not addressed these major barriers to interoperability.

T-DMB spectrum available now

Unlike DVB-H, which will have to wait up to five years for spectrum to become available in many countries, T-DMB allows the majority of European states to roll out mobile TV services right now, without delay. It is also compatible with DAB for audio radio services, allowing a very flexible approach to digital broadcasting with minimal investment risk.

Multi-standard chips already available

Interoperable silicon chips have already been developed so that years before DVB-H spectrum is available in some states, receivers capable of delivering DAB, T-DMB and DVB-H via one chip will be available. Leading semiconductor manufacturer, Samsung Electronics, has already announced a chipset which supports multi digital mobile TV standards, including DVB-H/T, DAB-IP, ISDB-T and T-DMB for multiple standards in different countries. Other mobile TV chip companies such as Frontier Silicon, Siano and Sharp have already announced multi-standard chips for mobile devices (see weblinks below).

T-DMB ticks all the Commission’s boxes when it comes to mobile TV broadcasting. It has been adopted by many countries in Europe and beyond; spectrum is already available for immediate roll out; it is already interoperable with DAB and DAB-IP. Being a European technology, developed from EU funding and ratified in ETSI standards, many high-tech European companies and jobs have already been created to support T-DMB.

Given that the industry is already moving towards multi-standard receiver technology and that T-DMB and DAB-IP are already being used for mobile TV in Europe, as has DBV-H, the Commission should explain its logic in excluding successful European standards from its list.

Limiting flexibility threatens 20 billion Euro market

The Commission’s Communication warns that competitors from Asia “have made significant progress [in mobile TV] and Europe risks losing its competitive edge in mobile services and missing a major opportunity for growth and innovation.” DVB-H has not been adopted by either China or Korea, whereas DMB and DAB have. WorldDMB members ask how mandating DVB-H can possibly minimise those risks.

If Europe wishes to compete with Asia, it must maintain a position of platform neutrality, encouraging all mobile TV standards and letting the market determine how each technology is used by Europe’s citizens.

At the rate technology is evolving, it can only be dangerous and imprudent to mandate just one standard for Europe. By limiting the flexibility of individual countries and constraining the whole of Europe to just one platform, the Commission risks stunting the growth of mobile TV, and damaging what, by its own estimation, could be a 20 billion euro market.

Weblinks: Sharp DMB + DVB-H tuner; Samsung multistandard DMB, DAB-IP + DVB-H chip; Frontier Silicon Paradiso DMB/DAB + DVB-H chip; Siano multistandard DMB/DAB + DVB-H chip

More: Commission opens Europe’s Single Market for Mobile TV services