The European Commission on Wednesday endorsed Nokia's standard for TV broadcasts to cell phones, saying Europe needed one common standard for mobile TV and it would look at ways to mandate its use.
The decision to back the DVB-H technology, or Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds, was expected. It is a setback to U.S.-based Qualcomm Inc., which is promoting its own MediaFLO system.
"DVB-H technology is the strongest contender for future mobile TV, with successful commercial launches and trials in 18 European countries, and increasingly worldwide," the EU executive said.
Next year provides a chance for cell-phone TV to take off in popularity, as people could be tuning in to watch the Beijing Olympics and the European Football Championship, it said.
Picking one standard will "promote consensus" to prevent market fragmentation caused by a wide variety of standards for mobile TV, the Commission said.
"Europe is today at a crossroads. We can either take the lead globally — as we did for mobile telephony based on the GSM standard developed by the European industry — or allow other regions take the lion's share of the promising mobile TV market," EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said. "'Wait-and-see' is not an option."
In the U.S., regulators are not mandating a single TV standard for cell phones. Modeo, a unit of cell-tower builder Crown Castle International Corp., has started broadcasting using DVB-H in New York City, but few phones can pick up the signal.
Verizon Wireless uses MediaFLO, and AT&T Inc. is planning to do so.