TV DOESN’T COME STANDARD
AS IS OFTEN THE CASE in the telecoms and high technology area, standards have become an issue. Much of the success of the GSM family of cellphone technologies including HSDPA is the rigorous enforcement of standards and the economies of scale that it brings.
Mobile television is another story: some 10 different underlying technologies that can deliver content either via cellular networks or terrestrial or satellite broadcasting infrastructure have been or are being developed to deliver mobile television and multimedia content. DVH-H or Digital Video Broadcast – Handheld is most popular in Europe and has also been chosen by MTN and Vodacom in South Africa. Other approaches, such as TDtv over cell networks, have emerged and are being trialled by 3G operators in the UK. Another cell network standard, first demonstrated by Ericsson at 3GSM, is MBMS. It enables spectrum efficient signal distribution, called multicasting, and will start commercial roll-out in 2008. The satellite camp has also found backers, with the US’s Qualcomm partnering with Sky television to implement a different standard called MediaFlo. To top it all the Chinese are pushing a proprietary broadcast system called STiMi.
The impact of this fragmentation is that handset and network equipment prices are being driven up and that takeup may not be as rapid as the industry is hoping.