Europe is slightly ahead of other continents in developing mobile television, but lack of joint radio spectrum for the service means it may lose its leadership, regulators and industry leaders have warned.
"Presently Europe has a few months' leadership over its rivals," Jorma Ollila, chairman of the world's top handset maker Nokia, told the recent i2010 telecoms conference in Helsinki.
However, an EU Commission official said it will take at least a year before there could be joint frequency in the union.
Fabio Colasanti, a senior official at the EU executive, said the Union aims to use a specific part of radio spectrum known as "L band" as a short term solution for joint frequency, but taking it into use will still take time.
"It will take at least a year," Mr Colasanti said, adding that this stop-gap solution will have to last until 2012 when analogue broadcasts are switched off and enough new radio spectrum becomes available to launch sufficient TV channels.
Viviane Reding, European commissioner for information society and media, said she is planning to propose renewal of dedicating spectrums in the new EU telecoms regulations, leaving some parts of the spectrum for national usage, while the rest would be regulated by the union.
Mobile operators hope that additional income from mobile TV services, which may generate another five to ten euros
of revenues a month, will compensate for declining revenues from voice telephony due to fierce competition and new regulation.
Nokia and many other European vendors favour a homegrown DVB-H technology (digital video broadcast - handheld) for watching television broadcasts on cellphones globally. Europe is also home for the global GSM mobile technology.
Excited by the prospects of a possible cash cow, the mobile and broadcast industries are in a hurry to launch commercial services, but it is not clear which technology is the best or what radio spectrum is available in the European region.
Lack of a joint band would mean consumers buying cell-phones for viewing television broadcasts in Germany, for example, would not be able to use their cellphones in France.
"We need rapid deployment of mobile TV in Europe," said Mr Ollila.