Nokia: Mobile TV to be Mainstream by 2008

In its annual filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, mobile handset maker Nokia says it expects mobile television applications to become available in selected markets during 2006, and reach mass market by 2008.

Despite Nokia’s optimism as the world’s largest handset maker, there’s some concern a mobile TV rollout may be more sporadic. Mobile television applications have already debuted Japan, South Korea, and parts of Europe, and mobile operators are eager to launch mobile TV services in the U.S. and Europe. However, technical hurdles and licensing issues may delay or complicate development of services.

For its part, Nokia supports the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld) standard being deployed in Europe (with trails already underway in Italy, Finland, France, Spain, and the Netherlands), but preferred frequency ranges are not available throughout the EU or the continent as a whole.

In South Korea, mobile TV service is already up and running, and three networks will begin broadcasting to cell phones next month using DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting), which bears some similarity to DVB-H but supports terrestrial broadcast offering advantages over satellite and wireless LAN technologies. Market analysis in South Korea indicates rebroadcast of live terrestrial television programming (including realtime broadcasts like news and events) may be more appealing to mobile users than video-on-demand services currently being offered on some 3G mobile networks.