Reding under fire on mobile TV

European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, has come under fire from the WorldDMB Forum, a consortium promoting the DAB/DMB standard worldwide, over her support of DVB-H technology for mobile TV.

Reding, which last week delivered a speech backing DVB-H as a European standard for mobile TV, has been accused of a stance that is “dangerous and detrimental to the future of mobile broadcasting in Europe,” by the digital broadcasting forum.

“I am prepared to give strong support to European standardised solutions, such as DVB-H,” Reding said last week.

The Commissioner’s attitude does seem to be at odds with the concept of “technology neutrality” supposedly at the heart of the telecoms package announced by the EC in early 2004.

One of the reasons Reding’s support of DVB-H has drawn fire is that it relies on spectrum that is scarce and therefore restricted.

Many European implementations DVB-H are reliant on spectrum that will not be available until analogue TV is switched off.

WorldDMB president, Quentin Howard, said: “The availability of spectrum is key to the roll-out of mobile TV and radio, and having a combination of DMB and DVB-H, for example, means you can start mobile broadcasting now in most European countries without the need for the Commission to do anything at all.  For the Commissioner to sweep away all these issues, contradict her own policy of neutrality and to ignore the recommendations of the EMBC is unbelievable.”

Just last week, the European Mobile Broadcasting Council (EMBC), which has spent the past year studying the mobile technology market in Europe, presented a report which concluded “there is no urgent need for specific new EU regulation to foster the introduction and development of mobile broadcasting.”

The Council recommended technology neutrality and said the Commission “should not favour any one technology over another.”

WorldDMB points out that many European countries, including the UK, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Spain etc have already deployed portable and mobile broadcasting using DAB digital radio and DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting).

“It is ridiculous for the Commission to think that only one system can work everywhere,” said Howard. “Each country has its own unique requirements and market conditions and the Commissioner’s preference for one solution suggests she has failed to grasp that mobile operators and broadcasters need flexibility to develop different business models.”

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