Another very interesting turn of events. After discussions that QCOM is more or less abandoning FloTV in the US (and elsewhere) for lack of customers, it looks like the lobbying in Japan for nextgen mobile tv is ... led by Qualcomm ! Mobile TV in Japan (and elsewhere) is not making money. How is the experiment going to last ?
Japanese publication Nikkei.com said that the country’s Communications Ministry has postponed a decision on which company and technology will win the licence for a new mobile broadcast network in the country, asking the Radio Regulatory Council to advise it on its decision. Operators NTT DoCoMo and KDDI are both leading groups supporting different technology standards – an evolution of the existing ISDB-T digital television standard and Qualcomm’s MediaFLO, respectively. The decision making process, which was due to be completed by mid-August 2010, has been further delayed by a suggestion the companies work together to create a joint deployment – although, conversely, some observers suggested that both should be licensed, to encourage competition. The network was expected to be launched for commercial services by 2012.
The delay to the decision comes at a time when there are question-marks over the commercial viability of stand-alone mobile broadcast networks worldwide. A recent report by Juniper Research found “disappointing” adoption levels for existing services, leading to “growing disillusionment within the industry”, although it did identify opportunities in markets including Japan, where networks may also be used to support a range of mobile data services. Qualcomm has already admitted to poor performances for MediaFLO powered services in the US, and it has been suggested that it will look to offload the business. The Wall Street Journal said that KDDI had argued the US status of MediaFLO services and the capabilities of the technology platform are different issues, and that it will launch services with a business model suited to the Japanese market. DoCoMo’s preferred ISDB-Tmm has the advantage of being a member of the ISDB family which is already used in Japan, but which has seen limited adoption elsewhere. Neither operator is supporting the DVB-H or DMB standards, which have been promoted in other markets – but with little notable success.