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EU nations endorse standard system for mobile TV

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Nov 29, 2007
The rapid roll-out of television on mobile phones across Europe took a key step forward on Thursday with EU member states supporting an industry standard for the bloc.

The European Commission, and now the EU nations, are backing the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld) over competitors.

All EU nations will have to support and encourage the use of DVB-H for the launch of mobile TV services, over such rivals as DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) developed and widely used in South Korea, or the MediaFLO system developed by US company Qualcomm.

Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, which would prefer to leave the market to choose the type of system available, had expressed reservations, though Thursday's decision required just a two-thirds majority of member states.

"DVB-H seems to have the potential to become the most common market-driven standard in the EU for terrestrial Mobile TV," European telecoms ministers said in a joint statement after meeting in Brussels.

"A pan-European approach could provide extra support to the successful, rapid and widespread deployment of Mobile TV broadcasting services, sustaining the EU's competitive edge," they added.

"This 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," said EU media commissioner Viviane Reding.

"European mobile TV is a step closer to success following today's endorsement by the council of the Commission's strategy for creating economies of scale in this important sector," she added.

The Commission believes the mobile TV market, following on the massive take-up of mobile phones, could be worth up to 20 billion euros (29.5 billion dollars) in 2011 and reach 500 million customers worldwide.

The EU's executive arm considers next year crucial to the sector due to major sports events, such as the European Football Championship and the Summer Olympic Games, which it believes will provide a huge opportunity for raising consumer awareness and interest in the new services.

At present South Korea and Japan together have 20 million mobile TV customers, more than 30 times the number of users in the EU.

Following the member states' agreement, the DVB-H will be published by the Commission next year in the list of official EU standards.

Reding stressed that 19 EU countries had already begun using DVB-H as the norm, something which she called "an irreversible tendency".

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