Television on mobile phones could become a mass market feature in a couple of years, the head of world number five mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson said on Thursday.
He said uncertainty over which technology would come to the fore could hold back developments, although as a mobile phone maker he was open to any way of bringing television to handsets.
"We see that coming, but I don't think that it is going to be a real volume market in 2006. It is certainly on the horizon," Sony Ericsson president Miles Flint told Reuters.
He said "'07 or '08" when asked when it would become big.
One technology being trialed by operators is DVB-H (Digital Video Broadband-Handheld), which bypasses mobile phone networks and broadcasts directly to handsets from TV masts.
Another technology is MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service), which uses the cellular network to distribute TV.
Yet another technology is DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting), a multimedia version of digital radio which was first used in South Korea and is being adopted by several operators in Europe, including in Britain and Germany.
Proponents of DVB-H and DMB say they allow an unlimited number of handsets to receive broadcast television, which could make it effective for a mass market in which users pay a flat monthly fee.
Qualcomm Inc <QCOM.O> from the United States has developed its own technology to broadcast TV to mobiles, called MediaFlo.
But the head of wireless equipment giant Ericsson said earlier this week that operators were also taking a look at MBMS as being more user-friendly and allowing more on-demand services. The group has done a trial of MBMS in Stockholm.
Using the existing mobile phone network to send television to mobile phones can save operators money, but it takes away capacity from revenue-generating voice and data traffic.
"We are pretty agnostic. We can implement both in our phones. There is not a big difference," Flint said when asked which technology he favored.