Long Live Analog TV—on Cellphones

Mobile phones breathe new life into a dying technology

Just as countries around the world are replacing analog television with the digital kind, along come new technologies to receive the old-style signals on mobile phones. 

To make sure it hasn't invented an ultralow-power, single-chip buggy whip just as the equivalent of a Model T arrives on the market, Telegent Systems, a fabless manufacturer of complementary-metal-oxide semiconductors based in Sunnyvale, Calif., commissioned a worldwide study. Though based on only a few hundred survey responses per country, the results, from the analytical firm In-Stat, were encouraging.

In-Stat found that "the majority of the world's countries will broadcast analog TV, even after 2013." And those countries turn out to be the right ones—analog TV will still be around in the very places where consumers aren't spending much on cellular voice and data services. That's important, because mobile analog TV signals are already in the air and therefore can be received for free. Business models for digital TV services, such as 1seg in Japan and V Cast in the United States, involve expensive monthly subscriptions.

In-Stat divided the globe into six regions—three developed areas where people spend a lot on cellular services, and three developing ones where they do not. In the latter group, usage patterns are strikingly similar: News was the leading type of television program, more than half of the respondents watched at least 30 minutes of mobile television per day, and the most popular "circumstance of use" was mass-transit commuting.

Click on any of the images below to see the data for yourself.

Analog Rules: Fully 88 percent of the world's population will still have an analog TV signal by 2013. Only six countries have turned it off, to be joined soon by another 19 countries.

analog rules
Source: The DVB Project

Mobile TV Usage Percentage of Respondentsb

mobile tv use
Source: Telegent Systems, In-Stat

Annual Revenue Per User for Cellular Voice and Data

annual revenue
Source: Telegent Systems, In-Stat
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