Where now for mobile TV?

European mobile operators have been testing, trialling and deploying mobile TV services for some years. But, unlike other regions, notably the US and Japan, the technology and services have failed to catch the imagination of potential consumers.

A panel of broadcast industry experts and insiders at the Edinburgh International Television Festival last month were united about one fact -- mobile TV screen size matters and determines viewing length. Perhaps an obvious conclusion, but not a trivial problem to resolve for the mobile industry.

A poll taken at the Festival indicated that some 40 per cent did not currently watch video content on their mobile screen and, of those that did, mobile video snacking was still the norm, with 50 per cent watching for only two minutes on average and less than 15 per cent watching for longer than 10. And this from an audience whose business is television!

This lack of interest will not be helped by the mobile industry turning the clock back and engaging once more in the "DVB-T vs. DVB-H" debate. This comes after the European Commissioner for Telecoms had weighed in earlier this year to push through legislation that mandated DVB-H as the EU's official standard for digital mobile television services.

While mobile operators in Germany had pioneered the route forward with DVB-H, lack of success has turned them away from the standard. France is now the new focus for DVB-H supporters with the government having selected 13 companies to fill the available slots.

All eyes will be on the success that these firms have with the technology -- otherwise DVB-H might slide into the enormous bin of 'tried but failed' technologies.

Qualcomm (with its MediaFlow solution) will be watching from the sidelines with great anticipation. --Paul