Mobile TV broadcasting: The second coming of GSM?

In a panel discussion today concerning the future of technology policy in the European Union, Japan, and the United States, it became apparent that the EU's and the US's opinions on mobile TV are diametrically opposed.

The panel was moderated by Financial Times West Coast editor Richard Waters, and included these panelists: David A. Gross, Ambassador and US Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy; The Honorable Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and the Media, European Commission, European Union; and The Honorable Tsutomu Sato, Senior Vice-Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan.

Comm. Reding has been at the helm of DVB-H standardization in the European Union, and her position on the future of handheld TV is a strong one. Being a Luxembourger, she cited the extremely high 150% penetration rate of cellular phones in her native land, and the 103% penetration in the EU as a whole. That kind of penetration, she said, is untouched by any other single nation, and the potential uptake -- or "take up" as she says -- of mobile TV in Europe is unparalleled.

Having a single standard for Mobile television delivery in the EU is just logical, Reding said, and DVB-H has been tested and proven as a success in numerous markets worldwide. She added that the technology is compatible with DVB-T, transparent, and upgradeable. Her faith in the standard is strong.

And while one of the key missions in her job is to ensure competition, there comes a time, she told the audience today, where someone in government needs to intervene, particularly to choose a standard.

EC Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding

When it comes to the issue of determining which technological format is best in any given market or service, Reding said at one point, "I think that markets should solve some problems. But sometimes the markets are very slow." And sometimes the industry gets bogged down in deliberations. "So that's when I decide, and that's it," she said.

Amb. Gross, however, stated his belief that the government should remain technologically agnostic, and that there is no benefit in aligning with one format over another.

Moderator Richard Waters then asked Gross what the risk is to a stalled US market when the rest of the world moves toward a chosen standard, much like the 2G situation with GSM.

Gross turned the question around and said he believed if it wasn't for the 2G situation, the US would not be in its current strong position in 3G. He said that such standards are consumer- and technology-driven. It is the job of the government to avail the spectrum, and encourage the competition among standards and companies, not to decide how content is to be delivered.

"Nobody has spoken of the consumers today," Comm. Reding then said, in a statement pointed directly toward the Ambassador. She said content is the actual driver of growth, and that is why the EU created her job.

"I decided to take the thing in hand," she continued, "We know where want to go, and it's time to go there."

Gross made the point that CES is not about content, It's about "things." All the platforms are driven by content and consumers, but it's more global now. It's net-focused.

"We don't think about content as being 'us,' it's access to the world's content," he said, giving people access to content. And on the flip side, having a global market for content providers to produce for, is what is truly of critical importance, the Ambassador added.

Comments are closed.

© 1998-2024 BetaNews, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy - Cookie Policy.