Analogue mobile TV will boom

Chris Forrester

While seemingly the whole world is switching to digital TV and abandoning analogue broadcasting it is worth remembering that for much of the planet analogue transmission will remain in place for years to come. One study suggests that 85% of the world’s population will be locked into analogue for several more years. “Which,” says In-Stat,” is why the analogue mobile TV format has proved so successful in many developing markets”. One growth area is in free-to-air mobile TV.

Analysts at In-Stat estimate that 54m analogue-TV-enabled phones will be in the hands of consumers by the end of 2009, rising to a massive 300m by 2012. Much of the raw data for the research was provided by Telegent Systems, which has shipped 20m units of its own mobile TV feature into major markets across Asia Pacific, Latin America and Turkey. Mobile operators in Latin America including Telefonica have also adopted Telegent’s mobile TV solution. Consumer adoption has been significant because the service is free, and it allows users to access terrestrial TV programmes that they are already familiar with.

This kind of take-up, numbering in the tens of millions, is in complete contrast to the mobile TV industry in Europe where consumer adoption has been very slow.

“The adoption of analogue mobile TV handsets has been driven by the most powerful force in the mobile industry: consumers,” said Frank Dickson, VP of research at In-Stat. “Analogue mobile TV has two very fundamental and compelling advantages – cost and availability. The infrastructure is already in place, there are no new standards that need to be enacted and the service is free to consumers – a very powerful combination.”

“In-Stat’s research findings help to validate our statement to the marketplace that analogue mobile TV is a very compelling content offering to a wireless operator’s subscriber base and to consumers,” said Telegent CEO Weijie Yun. “The success of free-to-air mobile TV is the result of two primary drivers, one is the fact that the content that consumers view is the same broadcast as what they watch on conventional TV, and the other is the universal coverage enabling consumers to watch it in almost every corner around the world.”