UAE issues Gulf's first mobile TV license

EMTC group pays US$4.6 million for 10-year license to offer mobile TV services, targeted to launch fourth quarter next year, in United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has issued the first mobile TV license in the Gulf Region, allowing mobile subscribers to watch TV channels directly from mobile phones.

Awarded to consortium Emirates Mobile Television Corporation (EMTC), the license will allow the group to offer mobile subscribers an initial selection of 13 channels on their handsets from next year, according to local reports this week.

The winning consortium comprises major telecom operators and some state-controlled media groups, including Etisalat, du, Abu Dhabi Media Company, Dubai Media, Emirates Communications and Technologies Company, and MBC.

The group paid US$4.6 million for the 10-year license, according to the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which includes exclusive rights to offer mobile TV services in the country for five years.

Telecom carriers Etisalat and du are reportedly gearing up to offer mobile TV packages in the fourth quarter of 2010, starting with the 13 TV channels.

Industry players believe mobile broadband penetration will drive demand for mobile TV. But while the platform has proven popular in Asian countries such as Korea and Japan, mobile TV has yet to see widespread adoption in other parts of the region including the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a Filipino freelance IT writer currently based in Saudi Arabia.

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