Mobile TV services will soon be a reality in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
The news that the Polish Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) will open a tender in May is not unexpected – Anna Strezynska, the regulator’s president, said only last month that the country could have a 12-channel DVB-H operation by the end of this year – but still a major development. So, too, is the fact that Poland’s four mobile companies have already signalled their intention to work together on a future mobile TV operation.
Elsewhere in the region, Russia’s three leading mobile operators all have plans to launch TV services. In the case of at least one – MTS, the Sistema-backed market leader – they are imminent, the company having already revealed that its offer, consisting of around 20 TV channels, will be made available in the Moscow region and up to 16 cities with a population of over one million.
What is more, a DVB-H service is understood to have been in operation in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia since last year. Owned by three local companies and employing technology supplied by Spain’s Sidsa, it was initially offering subscribers 17 TV channels.
Mobile TV trials have already taken place in several other countries in the region. In Hungary, for instance, they involved the national transmission company Antenna Hungária, which is a strong favourite to secure a DTT multiplex operators’ licence, the tender for which was recently announced by the National Communications Authority (NHH). Hungary has already allocated part of a multiplex on its future DTT platform to DVB-H services.
The Czech Republic, too, has laid the groundwork for future DVB-H services, with T-Mobile and the transmission company Radiokomunikace having undertaken a trail in Prague in late 2006.
The success of mobile TV is by no means guaranteed in CEE, or elsewhere in Europe. It may even be to soon for some markets to introduce services.
However, few can deny that it will be a welcome and indeed exciting addition to the TV landscape as the region steps up its transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.