EC warns mobile TV pushers - get a standard

Written by Brett Thomas

March 19, 2007 | 12:05

Tags: #ec #mobile-video #television

Mobile video, particularly television, is really starting to come into its own. It seems lately you can't buy a cell phone without hearing about its movie features, and portable video players are everywhere. And that's probably why the European Commission (EC) is finally speaking out - Get a standard, or we'll give you one.

Viviane Reding, the telecoms commissioner of the EC, let her motherly warning out to all content providers looking to do business in the EU. Providers of mobile TV have been arguing over why their choice for format should win since the take-off of the technology, and nobody has reached any agreement. Either the industry will have to come together and agree upon a standard, or Reding says she'll do it for them.

The lack of standards in mobile video and audio has been one of the greatest weaknesses for the technologies being readily accessible. Much like Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD has put consumers off from buying one player or the other, most people aren't willing to purchase portable video devices because they're scared of incompatibility and services. Now that services are springing up all over the place, incompatibility is getting to be a very large problem.

This isn't the first time that the EC has attempted to help this industry reach an accord, which probably accounts for Reding's firm stance on it. Last year, the organisation sponsored the European Mobile Broadcasting Council (EMBC) with the goal of helping ease disputes like these between mobile providers. However, the council has met with almost no success.

Reding has set a deadline for the decision as summer of this year. And it looks like she already has her choice in mind for if the industry can't agree. The EC has put over £27m into the development of the DVB-H standard and she sees little reason why it cannot be used. After all, it's already in service in 17 countries in the EU, and it is an open standard. That's a couple strong selling points to anybody in the mobile TV business.

Do you have a thought on the EC's imposition? Is it government meddling, or about time? Let us know your thoughts in our forums.
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