Nail in the coffin for DVB-H in the US?
AT&T announced today that they will be moving forward with MediaFLO's solution for broadcast video and audio services. With Verizon set to launch with the same service early this year, that puts about half of the US mobile subscriber population in the hands of MediaFLO. With Sprint and T-Mobile trialing the service (and they may also be trialing DVB-H), things don't look good for the DVB-H standard in the US – at least on cell phones.
With Cingular being a GSM operator like the rest of Europe (and most of the world), it is especially devastating to backers of the DVB-H standard here in the US that they chose an alternative technology.
There are relatively few subscribers to mobile video services in the US today, but there has been rapid growth from a small base in the past 12 months as catalogs expand and handsets come down in price.
Broadcast video will alter the economics favorably for those who can achieve scale – something that MediaFLO seems to be achieving with their recent wins.
That said, consumers are interested in watching video on devices other than cell phones. In fact, when surveyed, consumers perfer watching live TV on the bigger screens offered by laptops, handheld gaming devices and portable media players to cell phones. Introducing the cost of customer acquisition, however, raises the stakes for anyone launching a new service not tied to existing consumer services (e.g., cell phone contract)
It may not be the "nail," but there must be a lot of folks celebrating within the MediaFLO community.