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Netherlands doesn’t take to DVB-H, as KPN throws in the towel

KPN will drop DVB-H from June 1 say a number of press reports, among them one from Telecompaper

By PETER WHITE

Published: 31 March, 2011

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KPN will drop DVB-H from June 1 say a number of press reports, among them one from Telecompaper. We have been suggesting since March last year that KPN DVB-H numbers were low and falling and that senior management had already made a number of grumbling noises about the service in results announcements, while its Digitenne DVB-T service has eyed the spectrum jealously.

The problem, as with all DVB-H services in Europe is with the lack of available high quality devices and when we attended a Mobile TV conference in 2008 KPN execs were heard to plead that Nokia needed to make more devices available including top line as well as cheaper devices. KPN launched with just the N96, the Samsung P960 and LG KB620. KPN admitted to 40,000 DVB-H customer in its accounts after one year but this has fallen back to 20,000 now.

Given that Swisscom reached 90,000 subs in about three months and that Italy got as far as 800,000 subs at one point, and neither of them ever made any money out of DVB-H and that Swisscom has already folded its DVB-H operation, success at KPN never looked likely. Swisscom pulled the plug a year ago and we had long since thought the KPN would follow any day. Even the BMCOForum (Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum), the association set up to promote broadcast mobile TV in Europe, gave up the ghost and merged into the IPTVForum last year and in December Telecom Austria joined most other DVB-H players and switched off its service. Poland was due to go live with a service, but we have heard nothing and probably this has been quietly dismantled.

All that remains is for Italy to switch off its loss-making service, that’s if it hasn’t already done so rather quietly, replacing it with streaming cellular and DVB-H will almost have the coffin lid well and truly nailed down. There are services launching in South Africa, but all the 104 trials of the technology around the world which we tracked for years have either been switched off or the system has been moved over to streaming. The conspicuous early ground made by Nokia in places like Finland and Vietnam are thought to still be continuing, but without devices from the mainstream smartphones, these too will likely wither on the vine.

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