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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

The BBC Wants Mobile TV Urgently

Mark Thompson is in charge at the BBC. Creative Commons licenced photo by Eirik Solheim.

Mark Thompson, the General Director of the BBC, spoke about mobile TV to the Guardian yesterday.

Thompson wants broadcasters which clearly includes the BBC, mobile phone manufacturers, telecom operators and the UK government to work together to create a “road map” for broadcasted mobile television.

“I believe that there’s a strong case for the UK’s broadcasters, mobile phone operators, Ofcom and government to come together to develop a roadmap for the introduction of mobile TV in this country. This would be complementary to the availability of TV content on demand, whether streamed or cached on the device and would enable the public to access time-critical content – news, major sports events and so on – wherever they are.”

No meetings have yet been planned, but he calls for the process to be “kickstarted.” So what does that mean? I have not spoken to Mark Thompson about this, but if you want to kickstart something, you are usually in a hurry. I do therefore believe that this may open the way to mobile TV in the UK in time for the Olympics in London next summer.

In order to do so, there is only one feasible standard out there, namely DMB. DMB services are being introduced in more and more countries as we speak (the last ones being Netherlands, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Africa, Dominican Republic and Belgium).

A little DMB help from the EU Todays speech by Neelie Kroes, the Commissioner for Digital Agenda, should also help Tompson pick the technology to proceed with when it comes to mobile tv. She mentions the usage of open standards, and DMB, DAB and DAB+ specifically. Those three are all part of the same family (they can use the same transmitters and antennas and be received by the same receivers), and BBCs various digital radio channels via DAB already covers 86% of the UK population (set to increase to 93% by the end of the year).

Devices, as Mark Thomson mention, are also plentiful when it comes to DMB. There is already a wide range of available receivers on the market. And a new generation of terminals, mobile phones and tablet PCs (with GSM, 3G and/or Wifi that also enables interactivity and on demand programmes) are about to be introduced.

The DMB network in Greater Oslo was up and running less than 9 months after Norwegian Mobile TV Corporation was founded. There is still plenty of time to get everything up and running way ahead of the summer games in 2012. Especially if other broadcasters, device manufacturers, telecom operators and Ofcom (the British Post and Tele Authority) listen to Thompson’s wish for a kickstart.

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