Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Highlights of the IMA Mobile TV Conference

The Israeli Mobile Association (IMA) held a conference yesterday dedicated to the topic of Mobile TV technologies and services. The conference featured an impressive array of speakers from technology companies and mobile operators in Israel and abroad, who provided useful insights into the current mobile TV market. Below are some highlights from the conference.

Martin Richartz, Senior Technology Manager at Vodafone Group R&D, described the "mobile broadcast TV showdown" which will take place in Germany during the FIFA world cup next month. The games will be broadcast using a DVB-H network, operated by a consortium of all 4 German MNOs, and using a T-DMB network, operated by German start-up MFD. Mr Richartz urged the industry to converge on a bearer-agnostic IP service layer, which will ride on top of MBMS, DVB-H and eDAB, and enable service providers and content creators to roll out global services.

Guy Bauman, VP Business Development at Pelephone, gave an operator's view on mobile TV services. He described the Pelephone Zoom TV portal, which mixes video download, on-demand streaming and 21 live TV channels. Pelphone has found that prime time distribution in cellular TV is similar to regular TV, and that most users prefer music (31%), entertainment (29%), sports (11%) and news (10%).

Raimo Malila of Nokia Multimedia discussed the current fragmentation within the DVB-H standard between the DVB-CBMS and the OMA BCAST working group, especially on the issues of Electronic Service Guide (ESG) and content protection (conditional access and DRM).
Mr. Malila also described the possible business models for mobile broadcast TV, which are likely to be lead either by the broadcasters or the mobile operators. At the end of his speech, Mr. Malila presented a business case study for the roll out of a DVB-H network in Israel, claiming that the build-out cost to cover 95% of the population with in-door reception within 3 years would be 12.5M Euros, and the annual operating cost would be about 2-3M Euros per year.

Menno Bangma, Multimedia Services Consultant at TNO, described interative mobile services as a way to "push the portal" to the end-user, since they enable cross selling of content while watching TV, and create attractive opportunities for advertisers, such as impulse response, user feedback and user profile.

The conference concluded with an interesting panel session which gave some insights into the current challenges and roadmap for mobile TV services. The panel mentioned the following main constraints for the roll out of mobile TV services:
* Regulation and frequency aspects
* Standards fragmentation
* Echosystem (business model)
* Cheap terminals and multi-standard terminals (although there is a trade off between the two)

When asked about the best case scenario for mobile TV adoption, most panel participants replied that initial commercial services will be available within 18 months, and mass-market adoption is expected around 2008-2009.

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