D-Day for DVB-H

It strikes me as somewhat ironic that the EU spends a fair amount of its resource investigating anti-competition cases - Microsoft, Apple and Google are all closely monitored.

Yet, at the same time, Viviane Reding, EU media commissioner is today set to announce that DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds) is required to be adopted as the format for mobile video across the EU. Now, remember that this loose federation doesn't have standards for very basic things like traditional TV signals, electricity supplied or even plugs.

Furthermore, the Commission extraordinarily estimates that mobile TV will generate EUR11.4 billion in revenue globally in 2009, with around 50 million handsets able to receive a mobile TV service. I find this figure extraordinary. The average figure that networks seem to be able to charge for a service is a flat fee of around €5 - 10. One off charges have been largely unsuccessful to date. That suggests an annualised market value of around €3 - 6bn if all customers with mobile phones adopt the service. In reality, adoption is unlikely to exceed 25%. So, I think a figure around one fifth of that predicted is far more likely. And this is an expensive service to provide in terms of infrastructure, content cost and delivery cost.

Indeed, if past trends are anything to go by, I suspect the networks will actually use mobile video as an acquisition and retention tool, not an incremental revenue stream as the market matures.

The major casualty will be the rival DMB standard, long established in Korea and used by EU companies such as Virgin and RAI. But could the fact that DVB-H is a largely EU developed format whilst DVB is a US based standard have anything to do with the decision ?