Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bad Week for Mobile Broadcast TV

Some dark shadows on the future of dedicated Mobile Broadcast TV networks have been cast last week (thanks to Dick Pache for sending in the info).

On Thursday, German press reported that the consortium that won a DVB-H license in Germany, and started transmitting on June 1st this year, is about to shut down its DVB-H service. The apparent reason is that the mobile operators in Germany, who failed to win the license, would not provide DVB-H handsets to support this service, and prefer instead to offer to their subscribers handsets that are capable of receiving free-to-air terrestrial Digital TV broadcasts using the existing DVB-T network. Vodafone Germany CEO warned back in May that DVB-T handsets were threatening the business model for DVB-H, and that Vodafone wouldn't offer DVB-H handsets with a TV subscription fee, since they would cause subscribers to pay less for other mobile services.

And on Friday, Mobile Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in Japan said it would shut down its satellite mobile TV service, which has been in operation since Ocrober 2004. In this case, the Japanese free-to-air ISDB-T service (OneSeg) is blamed for the low popularity of the subscription-based satellite service. Over 20 million handsets supporting ISDB-T have shipped in Japan in the last two years.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mobilkom Austria Launches Hybrid UMTS/DVB-H MobileTV Service

Mobilkom Austria is launching a new mobile TV service today called A1 TV Plus. The service is unique in that it combines mobile broadcast TV using DVB-H technology, with unicast streaming over the UMTS 3G cellular network. The service will include 15 DVB-H TV channels, 7 UMTS TV channels, and 5 radio channels. Some of the DVB-H channels will also be available via UMTS outside of the DVB-H coverage area.

The service is supported by the Nokia N77 handset, and will cost 9 Euros per month (viewing DVB-H channels will be free until the end of 2008). Mobilkom Austria is also offering its customers free viewing of 6 DVB-T channels (regular digital TV broadcast) on the LG-HB620 handset, and viewing the UMTS channels on a PC using the Huawei E510 HSPA modem.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

KPN Launches Mobile Broadcast TV Service in the Netherlands

Reuters reports that KPN, the Dutch telecoms group, is staring to offer a mobile broadcast TV service based on DVB-H technology this month. The service will cost 10 Euros per month, and will include 10 channels. Samsung and LG will supply the initial handsets to support the service, and a Nokia device will be added at a later stage.

13 French Mobile TV Licenses Awarded

CSA, the French media regulator, has awarded mobile TV licenses to 13 TV channels. The French Mobile Broadcast TV service, using DVB-H technology, is expected to start by the end of this year. It is interesting to note that only two of the channels, EuroSport and CanalPlus will charge a subscription fee for viewing, while all the other channels will be included in the basic, "free" mobile TV package (part of the mobile subscription fee).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mobile TV Possible Without 3G or Mobile Broadcast Networks

According to a new market research published this week by Analysys Mason, mobile operators should look at the alternatives to delivering TV content to mobile devices, using WiFi and sideloading (transfer of content to a mobile device through a PC). Research on mobile TV has shown that many people use the service in their homes, where broadband network connectivity is available, and content can be loaded directly to mobile devices using WiFi, or sideloaded from a PC over Bluetooth or USB. Accessing Mobile TV content in this manner enables higher quality, less waiting time, and a challenge to mobile operator business models.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

AT&T Launches Mobile Broadcast TV Service Today

AT&T is launching its mobile broadcast TV service today in the USA, based on Qualcomm's MediaFLO technology. The service will be priced at $15 a month for 10 TV channels, and will be available in 58 markets. AT&T is also launching two new handsets today to support the service: The LG Vu and the Samsung Access.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

AT&T To Launch Mobile Broadcast TV in May

AT&T announced that it will start offering a Mobile Broadcast TV service in the USA based on Qualcomm's MediaFLO technology in May this year. The service will include 10 channels, two of them exclusive to AT&T, and will be supported by two handsets: The Samsung Access and the LG Vu. Pricing for the service has not been announced.

AT&T is the second provider of MediaFLO mobile TV in the USA, following Verizon who launched the Verizon Vcast mobile TV service one year ago. Verizon announced that it will also add two exclusive channels to its service, ESPN Radio and MTV Tr3s. However, Verizon has not released any subscriber numbers for its mobile broadcast TV service yet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mobile Broadcast TV Users in Korea Reach 11 Million

Telecoms Korea reported yesterday that as of February 29th 2008, the number of satellite DMB subscribers reached 1.31 million, and the number of terrestrial DMB users reached 9.69 million, giving a total of 11 million mobile broadcast TV users in Korea (I am using the term "users" for T-DMB since it is a free-to-air service, and not a subscription service).

Monthly sales of T-DMB devices are in the range of 400-500K a month, meaning that by the end of March the number of T-DMB users alone will pass the 10 million mark. S-DMB growth is not reported in the article, but it seems that S-DMB has stalled in Korea since similar numbers were reported at the end of 2007.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Strand Consulting: No Business Model for Mobile Broadcast TV

CIO Magazine quotes John Strand from Strand Consulting providing a grim outlook for mobile broadcast TV services. Some of the highlights include:
  • Only Nokia and other vendors can make money from mobile TV today, because they can sell network equipment and phones.
  • Operators can't profit from mobile broadcast TV since consumers won't be willing to pay enough to make up for content costs.
  • The future of TV is on demand, so supporters of mobile broadcast TV are betting on a dying technology.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

EU Selects DVB-H As Preferred Mobile TV Standard

The European Commission has selected the DVB-H standard as the preferred technology for mobile broadcast TV transmissions in Europe. The commission will promote the standard in all 27 member states, in an attempt to establish a single market for Mobile TV. Member states will not be required, however, to ban other standards from their market.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

PacketVideo Launches Mobile TV Add-on Device

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, PacketVideo is demonstrating a mobile broadcast TV add-on receiver which enables TV playback on any mobile device with WiFi capabilities. The device will be available in different versions for DVB-H, MediaFLO and WiMax, and is compatible with Nokia N-series, Apple iPhone and HTC Smartphone devices.

S3 showed a similar add-on device by Nokia, which receives DVB-H and sends it to compatible mobile phones over Bluetooth. S3 is providing the DVB-H protocol stack for the Nokia N810 Internet tablet which supports the add-on accessory device.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Broadcom Enters Mobile TV Chip Market

Broadcom announced yesterday the BCM2940, a 65 nanometer mobile TV receiver chip which combines a dual-mode demodulator and tuner, and supports both DVB-H and DVB-T. Broadcom claims that the chip reduces power consumption by up to 40% and footprint by up to 30% compared to current solutions.

This is Broadcom's first offering to the mobile TV chip market, which is already dominated by several players including DiBcom, Siano, TI, ADI, Qualcomm, Newport Media and others.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

AT&T Mobile TV Rumors

According to sources quoted by RCR Wireless News, AT&T is planning to launch its own MediaFLO-based Mobile Broadcast TV service in the US next week, following Verizon's launch of the service last March. The service will launch on February 5th, and will include two additional exclusive channels, on top of the 8 basic channels which Verizon also offers. It will feature the LG Vu (CU-920) handset, which is similar to LG's Prada and Viewty handsets, priced between $200 and $250.

ABI Research: 462 Mobile TV Subscribers by 2012

According to a new market research report published by ABI Research, the number of global subscribers to Mobile TV services is expected to reach 462 million by 2012, driven mainly by the expansion of 3G network deployment, and flat-rate pricing plans. ABI Research sees Asia-Pacific as the region with the most prominent growth, expanding from 24 million subscribers in 2007 to more than 260 million in 2012.

It is interesting to compare these figures with the recent findings in a report titled "Mobile TV in Asia", published by the Cable & Satellite Broadcast Association of Asia, as reported in TelevisionPoint. According to the CSBAA report, the number of mobile TV subscribers in Asia will increase from 15 million in 2007 to 76.3 million in 2012, out of 156 million global subscribers. The most probable explanation for this difference is that the CSBAA report refers to Mobile Broadcast TV subscribers only, while the ABI Research report refers to total Mobile TV subscribers, including both cellular networks and mobile broadcast networks.