Swift EU-wide deployment of mobile TV services is a step closer to reality after the Council endorsed a Commission package designed to help increase their take-up by European consumers.
Yesterday’s vote in the transport, communications and energy Council (29 November) endorses the Commission’s choice of DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld) as the common standard for terrestrial mobile TV in Europe. The strategy, proposed in July this year (see EURACTIV 19/07/07), also aims to make spectrum for mobile TV services more widely available, possibly in UHF frequency.
DVB-H is widely used by European companies such as Alcatel, Motorola, Nokia and Siemens, but the alternative DMB (Digital Media Broadcasting) standard is used in Asian countries and favoured by companies such as Microsoft, Samsung and Deutsche Telekom.
The UK, Germany and the Netherlands would have preferred the new rules to leave the market open to both standards, but they were outvoted by a majority which believes that the promotion of a single standard is needed in order to give industry “the certainty it needs to roll-out mobile TV services across Europe in 2008”.
Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding welcomed the Council’s support for DVB-H, and urged the “minority of governments who are still reluctant […] to endorse DVB-H as the European standard to join the majority quickly” and allow Europe to become “a world leader in mobile TV”.
In adopting the Commission’s proposals, the Council nevertheless stressed “the importance of innovation, technology neutrality and a market-led approach” to the deployment of mobile TV services, and invited the EU executive and other stakeholders to “take steps to ensure […] the maximum pan-European interoperability of services [and] consumer devices” in order to “improve freedom of choice for users”.
Commissioner Reding said she hoped the decision would mean watching mobile television in Europe would become “as easy, attractive and affordable as making a phone call”, adding that the Commission would continue to “take all necessary action to boost this vitally important industry” and ensure “the successful take-up” of the technology.
The EU executive says its mobile TV strategy should give European consumers the benefits of television “everywhere and anytime”.
Next year, which includes sports events such as the European Football Championships and the Olympic Games, is considered by the EU executive to be “crucial” for raising consumer awareness and increasing mobile TV take-up in Europe.