Commission opens Europe's Single Market for Mobile TV servicesWednesday, July 18th, 2007
Today, the European Commission has adopted a strategy favouring the take-up of mobile TV across the 27 EU Member States. The Commission urges Member States and industry to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of mobile TV across Europe and to encourage the use of DVB-H as the single European standard for mobile TV.
“Mobile broadcasting is a tremendous opportunity for Europe to maintain and expand its leadership in mobile technology and audiovisual services,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media. “Europe is today at a crossroads. We can either take the lead globally – as we did for mobile telephony based on the GSM standard developed by the European industry – or allow other regions take the lion’s share of the promising mobile TV market. ‘Wait-and-see’ is not an option. The time has come for Europe’s industry and governments to switch on to mobile TV.”
Until now, the introduction and take-up of mobile TV in the EU has been slow while Europe’s competitors have progressed significantly. Unless Europe takes concrete action immediately, it risks losing its competitive edge. For example, the mobile TV penetration rate of South Korea, Asia’s most developed mobile TV market, is close to 10%. Yet penetration in Italy, the EU’s most advanced market, is still less than 1%.
The Commission is strongly committed to the success of mobile TV (see IP/07/340) which could be a market of up to €20 billion by 2011, reaching some 500 million customers worldwide. The Commission sees today’s Communication on Strengthening the Internal Market for Mobile TV as crucial to create jobs and business opportunities for content creators, service providers and hardware manufacturers, and to bring new value-added services to citizens.
Three key success factors have been identified by the Commission for mobile TV take-up:
- Standards/interoperability: The Commission will promote consensus around a common standard, to reduce market fragmentation caused by multiple technical options for mobile TV transmission. The universal success of the GSM standard – which had been strongly supported by the Commission and Member States at the end of the 1980s – proves the benefit of a common standard. Currently, DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds) technology is the strongest contender for future mobile TV, with successful commercial launches and trials in 18 European countries, and increasingly worldwide. The Commission will therefore in the weeks to come prepare the inclusion of DVB-H in the EU’s official list of standards (published in the EU’s Official Journal) and will thereby legally encourage its use in all 27 Member States. It will look closely at market developments over the next months and come with proposals in 2008 including, if necessary and appropriate, mandating the use of DVB-H.
- Spectrum: Today’s Communication outlines the need of an EU strategy for the “digital dividend”, the premium spectrum that will be freed up by the switch-off from traditional analogue to digital TV broadcasting. The Commission calls upon Member States to make spectrum available for mobile broadcasting as quickly as possible, including in the UHF band (470-862 MHz) as it becomes available. This is considered the most suitable spectrum for mobile multimedia services due to its technical characteristics. The Commission has also initiated the opening to mobile TV services of another frequency band, the so-called L-band (1452-1492 MHz) as a fallback solution.
- A favourable regulatory environment: National approaches to regulating mobile TV vary considerably at the moment. This generates regulatory uncertainty across the EU. The Commission considers that mobile TV is a nascent service and as such should benefit from “light touch” regulation. It will organise an exchange of best practice and provide guidance for a coherent framework for mobile TV authorisation regimes.
2008 is considered by the Commission as a crucial year for mobile TV take-up in the EU due to important sports events, such as the European Football Championship and the Summer Olympic Games, which will provide a unique opportunity for raising consumers’ awareness and for the adoption of new services.
In March 2006 the Commission encouraged setting up a European Mobile Broadcasting Council (EMBC) to promote mobile TV in Europe. It gathered players from the telecommunications, hardware manufacturers and the software, broadcasting and content industries. However, EMBC failed to agree on industry led-solutions. This is why the Commission has now decided to intervene, and to actively support the take-up of mobile TV in Europe.
“¢ Mobile broadcasting is a tremendous opportunity for Europe to maintain its leadership
“¢ An EU Strategy for Mobile TV – Frequently Asked Questions (MEMO/07/298)
“¢ Strengthening the Internal Market for Mobile TV