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Researching Mobile TV Broadcast Services

The mobile TV broadcast market is expanding as services were commercially launched in more countries in 2006. A few more launches are expected in 2007, but unavailability of spectrum is the largest barrier to more mobile TV services, particularly in Europe, according to In-Stat.

Over the next few years, the situation will change. By 2011, In-Stat expects mobile TV broadcast services to have been launched in many European countries as spectrum will be available with the shutoff of analog broadcasting occurring around that time.

The most recently launched mobile TV broadcast service is MediaFLO USA which began offering mobile TV in 19 US markets with Verizon Wireless. In-Stat estimates those 19 markets contain 13 percent of the US population. The service will be available nationwide once the MediaFLO spectrum is cleared -- probably not until after the shutoff of analog TV signals in February of 2009.

The standards for mobile TV broadcasting continue to expand. There are commercial services that use DVB-H, DAB-IP, ISDB-T, T-DMB, S-DMB, and MediaFLO operating today. Other possible standards for the future include DVB-SH, an improved version of ATSC, and DMB-T/H in China.

With so many standards and no clear leader it is difficult for equipment vendors to achieve economies of scale as they currently offer multiple versions of products to serve the market. Most of the mobile TV broadcast services that have been launched offer only linear TV content.

Future plans from service providers include datacasting weather and traffic information, broadcasting to storage on the phone for later access, the ability to pause the TV program to take a call, and location-based addressable advertising using the GPS feature built into the phone.

In South Korea and Japan, broadcasters have launched free to air mobile TV broadcasting, so not all mobile TV broadcasting is subscription based. The number of mobile TV viewers to the free to air programming is larger currently than the number of subscribers.

The subscribers will surpass viewers unless free to air mobile TV broadcasting is launched in more countries. In-Stat's current projections are for mobile TV broadcast viewers to reach 190 million in 2011.

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