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Reding still pushing Mob-TV

First legislation, then recommendation, now guideline

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EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding hasn't given up pushing Mobile TV on anyone who'll listen, and has just published a set of guidelines in the hope that gentle persuasion will work where attempted legislation failed.

The EU still apparently believes that Mobile TV is going to be worth €7.8bn by 2013 as everyone leaps to watch TV on their mobile phones, citing the 5,000 punters signed up on Austria as a clear indication of things to come if only everyone in Europe would agree to abide by the newly-published recommendations.

Unfortunately only Austria, Finland, France and Germany have shown any interest in Mobile TV - and it's hard to imagine many regulators agreeing to the recommendations which include awarding technology-specific licences, penalising operators who fail to build enough coverage, and mandating cross-border service compatibility.

Broadcast mobile TV only makes sense if everyone is watching the same thing, at the same time, and they aren't at home (where a femtocell makes more sense) - something of a niche market considering the huge investment required to build in infrastructure with several times the number of transmitters required by the 3G networks already deployed.

The recommendations (pdf) make some play of the fact that DVB-H has been endorsed by the EU as a mobile television standard, without mentioning the fact that the EU already recognises competing-technology MBMS as part of the GSM standard, and that most regulators want more technology-neutral spectrum licensing. In the UK Qualcomm owns a huge chunk of spectrum, and has no qualms about deploying another DVB-H competitor, MediaFLO, if the market wants it.

Ms Reding has tried to have DVB-H mandated across Europe, along with radio spectrum to service it, but local regulators have refused to play on the grounds that allocating spectrum to a service few people seem to want is insane - despite the argument that the same thing could have been said of GSM a couple of decades ago. ®

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