The European Union on Monday chose a mobile TV broadcast standard and suggested that its member governments now ask cell carriers to favor it.
EU commissioners chose DVB-H, or Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds, the most widely used mobile TV format in Europe, over rival standards such as Qualcomm Inc.'s MediaFLO and another known as DMB that is favored by Chinese and South Korean manufacturers.
DVB-H is supported by the world's largest handset maker, Nokia, as well as Motorola, Philips, Sagem, Sony, Ericsson, Samsung and major European cell phone operators Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile. By contrast, Qualcomm's technology has signed up the two biggest players in the United States ??” Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
The European Commission said it had to order EU nations to favor DVB-H to create economies of scale and get the nascent technology off the ground.
The EU's executive is entitled to make decisions on some technical standards on behalf of member governments, which it did, for instance, in pushing the Global System for Mobile communications, or GSM, for mobile phones. That decision is recognized as leading Europeans to switch to cell phones faster than people in the United States have.
Selmayr said the European Commission believed it was important to forestall a war on standards that could have held back mobile broadcasting in Europe. The impact of the EU's choice is limited: EU nations can choose to avoid making decisions favoring the format and are under no obligation to eliminate other standards.
Ovum analyst Matthew Howett said the development and use of other technologies is still possible although EU backing for one standard creates "some certainty" for operators planning mobile broadcasting services and manufacturers making phones and chips. The EU cited research forecasts of a steep increase in demand for mobile TV in 2009, with the worldwide market reaching $31 billion in sales by 2011.