Mobile TV may yet come of age in Europe -- the technology's prospects have been given a boost by EU member states which have given their backing to the European Commission's strategy for tiny telly.
European rollouts of the technology have been hampered by uncertainty around standards and resulting marketplace fragmentation. But with the majority of member states now stepping in line with the Commission, the Nokia-backed DVB-H looks set to become Europe's mobile broadcast flavour of choice.
The EC believes having a preferred standard will help drive mobile telly forward. It published its strategy for accelerating the rolling of services back in July, which included promoting the use of DVB-H as the Euro standard.
Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media, said in a statement: "European mobile TV is a step closer to success following [the] endorsement by the Council of the Commission's strategy for creating economies of scale in this important sector."
She urged straggler states -- "the minority of governments who are still reluctant" -- to join the DVB-H camp, adding: "The more member states [that] participate actively, the better Europe will be in achieving the required critical mass to become a world leader in Mobile TV."
The commissioner is keen to ensure Europe does not lag behind on mobile telly. "Watching mobile television should become for every European as easy, attractive and affordable as making a phone call," she said, describing it as a "vitally important industry for Europe".
The EC believes mobile TV could be a market worth up to €20bn by 2011, reaching some 500 million customers worldwide. It points out that Japan and South Korea already have 20 million mobile TV customers -- more than 30 times the number of users in the EU.
DVB-H will now be published by the Commission in the list of official EU standards and member states will be obliged to support and encourage its use for the launch of mobile TV services.
Reding added the Council's backing for the EC's mobile telly strategy "shows that political resolve and market developments are in tune to ensure this potentially multi-billion Euro market is on the right track by mid-2008".