China gears up for mobile TV bonanza

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China gears up for mobile TV bonanza

Government pushing for widespread services to be ready for Olympic Games.

More than 22 million people in China will be watching TV broadcasts on mobile devices within four years, according to a new forecast published this week.

Mobile TV broadcasting in China is currently in its infancy, at fewer than one million viewers, Beijing-based research consultancy Analysys International reported. 

China is currently testing mobile TV technology based on a DMB-T (terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting) specification in several larger cities.

A very limited commercial service is available in a few areas, but the government is pushing service providers to make broadcasts and receivers widely available in time for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. 

While digital TV broadcasts are expected to take the lion's share of the market in the future, the majority of Chinese mobile TV viewers are currently watching streamed IP video on mobile phones.

Over half a million subscribers are using this technology, more than double the number connected to DMB services, according to Analysys.

However, the frequent postponement of China's 3G mobile network roll out, which is generally attributed to government interference, has retarded market growth.

"Limited by factors such as network bandwidth, content and tariff, the [streaming media-based] market developed comparatively slowly in 2006," said Analysys analyst Joan Lin.

"In 2007, with the issue of the 3G licences, China's streaming media-based mobile TV will enter a rapid development phase. It is estimated that market users will reach 7.45 million families in 2010."

In the meantime, the research firm predicts that DMB will be growing even faster. Once hardware and broadcasts become widely available, the number of subscribers is expected to reach 5.1 million in 2008 and 14.73 million in 2010.

China will have a total of 22.19 million mobile TV subscribers by 2010, when both DMB and streaming technologies are taken into account, Analysys predicts.
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