DVB-H is dead. Long live Mobile TV!

DVB-H logoSwisscom just announced it will stop its DVB-H service for Switzerland, putting DVB-H standard in a very difficult position.

> Read Swisscom press release

But Swisscom is not stopping its mobile TV service for good, it is just switching from DVB-H to streamed TV over 3G. The only remaining country with a DVB-H service is now Italy.

2 main reasons are at the origin of this DVB-H failure:

1. Business Model

DVB-H is at the crossroad between 2 ecosystems: broadcast TV ecosystem and mobile ecosystem. Stakeholders of both have fought to establish their views but none has prevailed in any country.

2. Too few compatible devices

The DVB-H portfolio is very limited with only one strong supporter: Nokia

Hence, the main technology to enable mobile TV is today streaming over 3G which is supported nearly by all operators. This approach has one big (enormous) flaw, its is to put more strain on crowded 3G networks.

But one shouldn’t count out broadcasters to quickly. DVB-T tuners on a chip are gaining momentum: prices are decreasing very fast and chip makers are doing their best to integrate several antennas so the device can catch the signal even when on the move.

I think the future of mobile TV will be a mix of DVB-T and steamed TV as you can find in any DSL set-top box (DVB-T tuner + IPTV). For live TV, your mobile device will use the DVB-T signal and for on-demand programs and subscription channels it will use 3G streamed TV.

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2 thoughts on “DVB-H is dead. Long live Mobile TV!

  1. I agree that the big hurdle for DVB-H adoption is lack of handsets and thus lack of customers with these. In your vision of DVB-T for live mobile TV, how do you see this technology being supported by the existing handsets in the pockets of users– by a removable chip receiver or some other form factor? Do you have any more info on these developments?

    • I think mobile TV within the next 18 months will be delivered mainly through 3G streaming. I don’t think a removable chip receiver is a viable option in the long run. Developing DVB-T accessories is quite hazardous from a business perspective especially because of the fragmentation of the market. Some accessories for hero devices may appear but the experience will still be clumsy.
      Japanese have developed very nice form factors for their one-seg technology: http://k-tai.hitachi.jp/w63h/index.html

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