Verizon Wireless's acquisition of Alltel makes it the biggest player in the US mobile market and poses an ever growing problem for the UK's Vodafone, which owns 45% of the market. A huge amount of capital is tied up in this business and Verizon has announced that it will not be paying a dividend until 2012.
This situation, reminiscent of that other transatlantic telecom debacle, Concert. Vodafone can't afford to buy out Verizon (especially given current market conditions) and Verizon has little need to stump up to buy back shares in a majority owned subsidiary. And the figures are so enormous and the pill so poisoned that no one else will touch the situation.
The relevance of this to the growth of TV over IP is huge. The show is moving on and we are now with mobile devices and video where we were with PCs and video some decade ago.
The sector has, to date, been a graveyard for many startups whose business models simply aren't viable due to the walled gardens and oligopolies run by the mobile operators in almost all markets around the world. There are simply too many mobile orientated companies to mention and the few who have been modestly successful have acted as suppliers to the mobile giants.
I remain bullish about this sector as a whole and expect mobile TV takeup to increase gradually, but more on PDA type devices (or MEDs - mobile entertainment devices) than on traditional cellphones, but it's going to be a relatively trivial task for current video on PC operators to adapt their services to these devices, especially as the boast more and more powerful processors and better web browsers.
Whilst the giants at the top of the industry maintain their oligopolies there is very little nurture that trickles down to mobile video startups and they face a tough task.