Study: DVB-H to spearhead mobile TV

New report from Frost & Sullivan reveals growing support for the fledgling digital video broadcasting technology.
Written by Farihan Bahrin, Contributor

Industry support and quality of service--these factors will help the fledgling digital video broadcasting-handheld (DVB-H) standard become the main driving force for mobile TV over the next few years, predicts Frost & Sullivan.

The research house released a new study last week indicating that DVB-H technology has generated much enthusiasm among players in the mobile industry. In 2006, the digital video broadcasting-handheld (DVB-H) market totaled US$60 million. Frost & Sullivan expects this figure to balloon to US$2.04 billion by 2010.

DVB-H is one of several technologies that are competing to become a global standard for delivering broadcast TV to handsets. Other standards include Qualcomm's MediaFlo and DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting).

According to Nagarajan Sampathkumar, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, DVB-H holds the edge over other competing mobile TV standards by virtue of being a neutral platform.

"Many participants in the wireless industry support the DVB-H technology as it is an open industry standard, and this non-proprietary feature of the standards is likely to vastly assist its growth in the wireless market," Sampathkumar said in a press statement.

"Furthermore, DVB-H delivers an improved end-user experience over current video streaming services that utilize cellular networks, while also providing broadcasters, cellular operators, handset manufacturers and silicon providers with tremendous growth opportunities," the analyst added.

Frost & Sullivan's study noted that while DVB-H's quality of service (QoS) is improving, the technology is still some ways off in achieving its claim of broadcasting digital content at 25 frames per second (fps).

Past trials put DVB-H's practical playback speeds of between 15- and 16fps for mobile devices, but Frost & Sullivan expects playback performance to improve with the use of a dedicated broadcast network.

Sampathkumar said the biggest challenge that could prevent mobile TV operators from adopting DVB-H is the issue of business and revenue models.

"[With DVB-H], mobile operators are likely to serve only as a link to customers and would not be in a position to negotiate for better revenue splits with others in the value chain," he said, adding that mobile operators will need to differentiate their offerings and provide value to ensure customer loyalty and remain profitable.

In addition, mobile TV providers will also be required to work closely with content creators, aggregators and broadcasters, to ensure content is secure and support digital rights management to protect copyrighted material.

More regional operators in the Asia-Pacific region have started to aggregate specialized content for mobile phones, a move that is expected to drive mobile TV adoption.

Industry analyst Informa Telecom & Media predicted that the Asia-Pacific market will lead in the adoption of mobile TV, with a projected 68.4 million mobile broadcast TV users by 2010, or nearly 55 percent of the world's total.

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