LONDON An estimated 29.5 million mobile TV phones will be using the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard by 2010, according to a study by Eureca Research, with personal music players, portable video players and mobile PCs equipped with DAB chip sets accounting for an additional 20.5 million units.
Developments in broadcast technologies mean that it is now possible to deliver TV and a range of multimedia content reliably to small hand-held devices such as mobile phones. This has given rise to a new business mobile multimedia broadcast services (MMBS) which will bring about the convergence of the mobile and broadcast industries.
As with most emerging businesses, there is a bewildering array of different technology platforms to consider, ranging from a number of digital radio and proprietary satellite multimedia standards to TV-based standards such as DVB-H and ISDB-T.
Eureca Research (Bangor, U.K.) predicts the Eureka-147 DAB standard offers an interesting, lower-risk alternative to most other technology platforms. “I expect to see a significant acceleration in the take-up of digital radio via DAB during the next 12-18 months as more spectrum becomes available in the all-important VHF band,” said Gareth Owen, research director at Eureca. “Concerns about the spectrum efficiency of the Eureka-147 standard should be dispelled with the launch of the new DAB v2 standard which incorporates AAC+ codec technology.”
Eureca Research forecasts that the installed base of broadcast-enabled mobile phones will increase from approximately 450,000 at the end of 2005 to 155.5 million units at the end of 2010, representing a compound annual growth rate of 104.8 percent.
Mobile phones using the DAB standard will account for 29.5 million units, or 19 percent of the total global market. That represents a cumulative market opportunity of 10.1 billion (about $17.6 billion) for device manufacturers over the next five years.
With mobile TV emerging, Eureca predicts that many countries will use much of the new spectrum for mobile TV-type services, and that the present 20 percent data limit on DAB multiplexes will be relaxed in most countries. That could lead to more capacity.
Commercial mobile TV services based on the Eureka-147 DAB standard will commence in the U.K. and South Korea in early 2006. Increasing interest in other parts of Asia, particularly China, and in several European countries, means that Eureka-147-based technology could become a second global standard rivaling DVB-H, providing it can attract wider support amongst handset vendors. Eureca Research predicts that MMBS growth in Europe will be led by DAB-IP and T-DMB services, initially using shared capacity on existing DAB networks, with new DAB networks dedicated to MMBS becoming available in 2006 and 2007. In the medium to long term, the terrestrial MMBS landscape will consist of numerous smaller capacity DAB networks (many offering free-to-air services) and one or possibly two higher capacity DVB-H networks per country.
Mobile broadcast technologies will also be incorporated into a number of non-phone consumer devices such as personal music players, portable video players and mobile PCs.
“All new personal music players will be wirelessly-enabled by the end of 2010, and the majority of these will be equipped with DAB technology” said Owen. The first personal music player capable of downloading music from a DAB broadcast stream will be launched in early 2006. “Radio broadcasters are well positioned to capitalize on the boom in music downloads and this could become a significant market opportunity for the radio industry.”
The recent launch of Apple's video iPod could kick-start the market for portable video players and video download services. PVR vendors are preparing to launch a range of portable players which can be connected to a PVR via a USB link, and which would enable pay-TV subscribers to download stored content to a portable device for viewing on-the-go. These devices will increasingly become equipped with a variety of MMBS technologies such as DAB-IP/T-DMB and DVB-H.
The report also provides a detailed analysis of spectrum availability in Europe and overviews of MMBS trials and commercial services.
A key feature of the report is a 35-page review of the global roll-out of digital radio both terrestrial and satellite detailing how existing digital radio networks are being used to deliver multimedia content, and how digital radio broadcasting can be used to offer mobile TV and music downloads services with minimal investment in network infrastructure.
Eureca Research said it conducted almost 100 interviews for the study, including interviews with regulators in 17 European countries.
The report was issued the same week that Nokia introduced its N92 mobile-TV phone.