In-Stat: 3G mobile TV to reach 42 million users by 2012

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The 3G mobile TV market will skyrocket from 6 million subscribers worldwide to 42 million by 2012, and Europe isn't necessarily ahead of North America right now in this space, according to an analyst for In-Stat Research.

In an interview today with BetaNews, Michelle Abraham, an In-Stat analyst, estimated that 3G mobile TV services will evolve into a $5 billion market worldwide by 2012. But exact penetration rates for mobile TV are hard to figure right now, since carriers tend to focus more on sales of devices than services in their reports, Abraham contended.

"MobiTV, though, hit the mark of 3 million [subscribers] last October, and the company should soon be reaching the 4 million mark," BetaNews was told. She also suggested that some of MobiTV's [carriers] partners might do a better job of marketing 3G mobile TV.

"A lot of consumers don't even know about mobile TV. Some carriers don't make it that easy for people to find out what's included in their 3G mobile packages. But others do, because they view [mobile TV] as a revenue generator," BetaNews was told.

MobiTV -- a service that offers TV channels from content providers such as MSNBC, ABC, and Fox -- now offers mobile TV services to subscribers on 3G networks run by carriers such as Sprint, AT&T, and Alltel. In Canada, MobiTV is available through Bell Canada, Rogers, and Telus Mobility; and a representative confirmed it offers some services to 3G customers in the UK.

But 3G mobile TV requires underlying 3G technology, and the availability of 3G services varies among various countries in Europe, Abraham said.

Abraham also told BetaNews that France Telecom offers its own mobile TV service, Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific, some mobile networks "are already at 3.5G," according to the analyst.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm -- a competitor to MobiTV in mobile television -- announced in April that it will use wireless spectrum gained in the FCC's recent 700 MHz auction to expand the programming offered by its MediaFLO service.

MediaFLO has traditionally operated on the UHF broadcast spectrum, but only in 58 US markets. Qualcomm's plans call for offering the expanded MediaFLO mobile TV service through both AT&T and its existing partner Verizon Wireless.

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