(Via Infoworld) South Korea will launch competing terrestrial and satellite-based multimedia broadcasting services, marking one of the first commercial showdowns for digital video content for mobile phones in the world.This gamble could set a precedent for companies in other countries seeking to market subscription services for streaming bits of video, music and information. South Korea,broadband savvy as it is,is prime territory for a test run.
S.Korea expects multimedia broadcasts to create 160,000 jobs over the next 10 years with $13 billion in product sales and added services.South Korea is using its propriety Digital Multimedia Broadcast (DMB) standard, a derivative of the Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) standard widely used for radio broadcasts in Europe.Japan is also using it for satellite broadcasts but has its own standard for terrestrial broadcasts.LG and Samsung are both heavily vested in DMB and are hoping it's adopted Europe-wide as a standard. South Korea's Ministry of Communications has created a special task force lobbying for European use of its DMB standard, and Korean companies have performed several demonstrations.
The other competing technology, Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld (DVB-H), was picked by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) as a standard recently. LG recently promoted its DMB standard at the 3GSM Conference at Cannes as requiring less infrastructure investment as DVB-H because of existing DAB services in many countries. Satellite DMB offers an advantage over terrestrial-based systems in that it immediately covers the whole country, and the company has heavily invested in so-called "gap fillers" to enhance coverage in subways where South Koreans use their mobile phones while traveling TU Media's satellite broadcasts will provide 14 video and 22 audio channels. TU Media has contracted with production companies to create short videos, skits and films for its broadcasts. Company officials predict that 600,000 people will buy handsets for satellite broadcasts and sign up for the service in 2005 alone. They predict 6.6 million subscribers within five years.
Can satellite and cable providers outspend major broadcasters that spend tens of millions of dollars annually for their appealing programming is the issue getting debated. The winner may come down to which company can most quickly establish the largest subscription base. TU Media is 30 percent owned by SK Telecom, the largest mobile phone provider in South Korea, and has the advantage of a large customer base. Technical limitations mean consumers will have to opt for one or the other as phones won't be able to handle both signals. But the only phone satellite-capable phone on market now - a swivel-head screen made by Samsung, the SCH-100 - costs around $700. Subscription pricing plans and handset prices could come down over time however. Satellite based multimedia broadcasting seems to have good potential.