DVB-H set to be future of mobile TV: report

MUMBAI: The concept of providing television services on a mobile device is generating much enthusiasm among the wireless industry, in turn driving the growth and development of digital video broadcasting-handheld (DVB-H) technology. Overwhelming support from the wireless industry is likely to be one of the major drivers for the growth of the technology, as will be the increasing demand for content on the move. In short, DVB-H could well become a global standard similar to Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), creating an altogether new market for television viewership.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, DVB-H Technology-Market and Potential Analysis, reveals that revenues in this market totaled $60 million in 2006 and is likely to reach $2.04 billion in 2010.

"Many participants in the wireless industry support the DVB-H technology as it is an open industry standard, and this non-proprietary feature of the standards is likely to vastly assist its growth in the wireless market," notes Frost & Sullivan research analyst Nagarajan Sampathkumar. "Furthermore, DVB-H delivers an improved end-user experience over current video streaming services that utilize cellular networks, while also providing, broadcasters, cellular operators, handset manufacturers and silicon providers with tremendous growth opportunities."

This apart, the quality of service (QoS) is likely to be better due to the use of a dedicated broadcast network. Additionally, though DVB-H claims speeds of 25 frames per second (fps), trials show practical speeds of 15-16 fps, which seem to be sufficient for existing screen sizes and resolutions. However, in future, these speeds are likely to increase to 20-25 fps for fixed digital TV in Europe.

Despite the promise, one of the biggest challenges to adoption of DVB-H by mobile operators is the issue of business and revenue models. With DVB-H, mobile operators are likely to prefer to continue operating in their area of domain expertise service provisioning, billing, and customer care and therefore, broadcasters would have ownership of the content and the overall visual experience.

"Hence, mobile operators would need to differentiate their offerings and provide value to ensure customer loyalty and remain profitable," says Sampathkumar. "This also means that mobile operators are likely to serve only as a link to customers and would not be in a position to negotiate for better revenue splits with others in the value chain."

Service providers would be required to work very closely with content creators, aggregators, and broadcasters, and ensure secure content and support digital rights management in an effort to protect copyrighted content. While revenue issues could be addressed through subscription models, event-based, pay per view, and even interactive services, the most important challenge is likely to be the optimizing of battery life of the handsets, the study concludes.

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