TV on mobiles expected to challenge IPTV

Television on mobile devices is a far more compelling offer than IP TV, according to a major security provider to the broadcast industry.

Mobile broadcast TV will leave IPTV for dead, Roger Harvey, ANZ sales director for Irdeto, said.

Using mobile technology to push live television to subscribers is fast and relatively simple, Harvey said. On the other hand, telcos and service providers need to spend big dollars to build out their IP networks before they can be television ready.

"It has a strong business case and a clear revenue driver," he said.

Irdeto, headquartered in the Netherlands, provides hardware and software products that secures broadcast content. As broadcast signals traverse the air, its products ensure only the paying subscriber receives that signal. Its customers in Australia include pay TV operators such as Optus, Foxtel, Globecast, Austar and Sky Channel.

But it is mobile broadcast TV where the company expects things to really take off. South Korea, where TU Media, a unit of SK Telecom, launched its Satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (S-DMB) mobile TV service last year, is a case in point.

The service currently provides 30 channels, with subscribers paying $US11 a month for the privilege. More than 300,000 viewers are already subscribed to the service with estimates of up to 10 percent of the population viewing TV on their phones by 2010.

In Australia, 3 already provides live TV on mobile phones, while Telstra is trialling mobile TV with Nokia. Based on the DVB-H standard, its trial will be complete in the coming months.

Harvey said broadcast content will move to many portable devices in the near future. "Anything with an LCD screen will able to receive TV," he said.

IPTV is positioned as a replacement to free TV, said Jerson Yau, associate analyst, wireless & mobility at IDC. "Mobile TV is an add-on to current TV consumption."

With customers willing to pay for such services, it will provide the potential for service providers to supply extra services.

"When you deliver TV to mobile phones you can drive interactivity," Yau said, adding that TV can provide incremental revenue for mobile operators.

Not only would a customer watch TV, but using key pads they can turn the phone into a powerful device for commerce, he said.

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