"Amid the growing interest in triple-play and mobile advertising, mobile TV has been the buzzword in the Asia-Pacific mobile and wireless market," notes Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Shaker Amin. "The recent spate of trials and the commercial launches of broadcast networks in Japan and South Korea indicate that the mobile TV fever could well catch on throughout the Asia-Pacific region."
Two of the regions most mature mobile markets, South Korea and Japan, have introduced mobile TV broadcast services (ahead of the other Asia-Pacific countries) built on homegrown standards. South Korea spearheaded the DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) standards, launching S-DMB (Satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) and T-DMB (Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) in 2005. While Japan launched ISDBT (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial), or 1-seg, in 2006.
South Korea is expected to hit mass adoption in mobile video services between 2008 and 2010, when the rest of Asia-Pacific joins the commercial broadcast TV service bandwagon.
Other markets that have commercially launched DVB-H mobile TV broadcast services include Vietnam's VMC (Vietnam Multimedia Corporation) in September 2006, and Philippines' Smart Communications in February 2007.
In the rest of the Asia-Pacific markets, digital video broadcast-handheld (DVB-H) and MediaFLO remain most commonly selected for trials. In China, T-DMB (a different version from South Korea's) and CMMB (China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting), both homegrown standards, are being deliberated for the country's national mobile TV broadcast standard.
Pricing however remains the biggest hurdle to a wider uptake of mobile video and TV services. In 2007, the total mobile ARPU in Asia-Pacific stood at US$16.8 (including Japan), largely due to the region's lower disposal income.
Furthermore, mobile TV broadcast service (multicast) requires compatible handsets, which are not widely available throughout Asia-Pacific as yet. In markets where an impending launch is expected, mobile handset manufacturers are still in the midst of finalizing handset requirements with the major mobile operators.
"In most markets, mobile video service becomes especially expensive when a user exceeds the stipulated amount of data in a 'flat-rate' plan," says Amin. "Considering that this is a major restraint to greater uptake, mobile operators could follow the example of South Korean operators who have implemented an 'eat-all-you-can' flat-rate for data charges to encourage adoption."