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Monday, July 17, 2006

BSkyB and MediaFlo

BSkyB and the Murdoch Empire in general are probably one of biggest users of DVB-S technology: this is a European standard for the delivery of broadcast TV via Satellite. A derivative of the technology, DVB-T, is in use and becoming the European standard for the delivery of broadcast digital TV via the terrestrial spectrum. A derivative of the technology, DVB-H, is being heavily promoted by Nokia as a solution for the delivery of TV via Broadcast for Mobiles. I would argue that the current broadcasters eg BSkyB to have a much greater knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the DVB technology than the mobile operators (eg O2) which have just completed a series of trials of the DVB-H technology across Europe.

I am intrigued as to why BSkyB would select Qualcomm’s MediaFlo technology as the basis for its’ trial of broadcast Mobile TV over DVB-H. Personally, even if Qualcomm had paid for the whole of the trial, I don’t think BSkyB would have bothered if the Qualcomm solution doesn’t hold some theoretical advantage over the DVB-H technology. It is just too much of a waste of scarce technical resources for such gaming.

Secondly, I don’t think that BSkyB would be bothered with a trial if they didn’t have a route to market with the product. ie It is possible for someone to acquire technology neutral spectrum suitable for broadcast Mobile TV. The exciting thing is that OFCOM openly state that they do not want to limit the use of spectrum for a particular spectrum as they have in past (ie GSM & W-CDMA)

Third, if there is one company with the experience of launching new technologies, not being frightened of taking a contrarian stance and most importantly, putting its’ wallet where its mouth is – it is BSkyB. BSkyB is one of the few companies in the UK who could take on the Mobile Operators (along with BT) and a more than a remote chance of victory.

As much as BT controls the copper access network in the UK and the oligopoly of Mobile Operators controls the Cellular Spectrum; BSkyB controll the satellite access world and it should not be forgotten how much of a presence they have in the houses of the UK & Ireland and the power of the Sky brand. Personally, I think with the acquisition of Easynet and the exploration of the Mobile TV potential, we are starting to see the emergence of Sky 3.0.

On a side note, nothing would annoy Nokia more than the arrival of the Qualcomm MediaFlo Tanks on the lawns of the UK. It is going to be fantastic to watch this saga unfold.