Ovum comment: EU promos DVB-VH

According to Dow Jones Newswires, the European Commission has prepared a document in which it supports DVB-H as the standard of choice for mobile broadcast deployments across Europe.


A single standard aims at reducing market fragmentation. The Commission chose DVB-H over T-DMB and MediaFLO, two other solutions for mobile broadcasting, whose strongest promoters are outside Europe.


According to the article, the commission said it plans to add DVB-H to the list of standards published in its official journal, which should imply that EU countries are required to encourage the use of DVB-H.


Ovum senior analyst Vincent Poulbere comments:


The willingness of the EU to promote a single standard for mobile broadcast in Europe has generated much debate among industry players, but overall, we question the real impact of this move, at least in the short term.


Let's start by asking what is the greatest barrier today to mobile broadcast deployments in the EU‾ The main barrier is the lack of spectrum in the UHF frequency band. Due to its current use for TV transmission, there is very little - or no - resource left in UHF for the deployment of mobile broadcast, and this situation is forecast to remain until the digital TV switch-over.


Many major industry players in Europe would have started deployments of DVB-H in UHF if this band were more available. And it's actually the lack of UHF spectrum which has encouraged the technology fragmentation, with mobile broadcast solutions, which are adapted to other - more available or already allocated - bands, like T-DMB, TDtv, satellite or MBMS.


Based on the information we have, the EC's move does not address this critical issue of spectrum availability, and hence won't change much of the current situation of DVB-H in Europe. It's certainly a blow to Qualcomm's MediaFLO which is also optimised to use the UHF spectrum, but in any case, we were not aware of a single major European player interested in deploying MediaFLO.



DVB-H is already the preferred solution for mobile operators in four out of the five biggest EU countries: Italy, France, Germany and Spain. In the longer term, the EC's decision will secure DVB-H's position in Europe, especially when UHF spectrum gets released following the extinction of analogue TV. But in the short term, the effects will probably be negligible, and market fragmentation is likely to continue.


Opting for a single standard is useless if there is no common spectrum available to deploy it. We believe the EC's effort should be focused on freeing frequencies in UHF to unlock the market potential.


Vincent Poulbere is a Senior Analyst in Ovum's global Consumer Practice