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Reding threatens Euro TV regulations

Backs DVB-H for mobile television

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CeBIT Viviane Reding sent a chunk of the mobile TV industry reeling when she threatened to impose standards on the industry and publicly backed the DVB-H standard.

Speaking at a conference at Cebit last week, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said the Commission had backed the industry in setting up the European Mobile Broadcasting Council, with the aim of letting industry regulate itself.

But so far, she said, the council had failed to make any concrete progress. Reding highlighted GSM as an example of the European Commission using a light touch, and letting industry resolve technical issues.

Reding ordered operators and vendors to get their act together and come up with some standards. “I would really not like to intervene with regulatory standards,” said Reding, giving every impression the industry would find the experience pretty unpleasant.

Reding also banged the drum for the DVB standard. In her official statement, she said “European industry has already developed successful TV standards in the past, and I am very confident that on the basis of DVB-H, mobile TV services can develop the economies of scale they need for take-up across Europe and around the world.”

She added, at the conference, “I came to the conclusion that we need an open standard…and we need a European standard.”

Backers of other standards were left dismayed by Reding’s clear bias in favour of DVB.

Andrew Gilbert, president of Qualcomm Europe, he supported the drive for standardization, but was “confused that [she’s] advocating a specific technology…I got the impression that she’s chosen DVB-H.”

Away from the issue of standards, Reding, said the switch to digital broadcasting will free up UHF spectrum that could for the basis for a common spectrum for mobile TV. A review of the potential of the “digital dividend” is due later this year.

Mobile TV seems set to be spared public service type “must carry” obligations, although Reding also said this could be looked at again as the industry matures.

At the same time Reding planted a stake in the ground for future billing, saying that eventually she expected to see mobile TV achieve the kind of roaming capabilities seen with mobile voice, “but not the costs."®

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