Samsung and Qualcomm, along with other entities, are expressing their opposition to India’s selection of technology aimed at enabling live TV broadcasts on smartphones. They argue that the necessary hardware modifications will result in an increase in the device’s cost by $30, as indicated in letters examined by Helpleak.

A man is seen viewing a video on his mobile phone while commuting via a suburban train in Mumbai, India, on March 31, 2016.

India is contemplating a policy that would require smartphones to be equipped with hardware capable of receiving live TV signals independently of cellular networks. The proposal suggests the adoption of ATSC 3.0 technology, widely used in North America, which offers precise geolocation of TV signals and delivers high-quality video.

However, companies contend that their current smartphones in India lack the necessary compatibility with ATSC 3.0, and any attempts to integrate this capability will result in a $30 increase in the cost of each device, necessitating the addition of additional components. Some are concerned that this could disrupt their existing manufacturing plans.

In a collaborative communication addressed to India’s Ministry of Communications, Samsung, Qualcomm, as well as telecommunications equipment manufacturers Ericsson and Nokia, have expressed concerns that the inclusion of direct-to-mobile broadcasting may have adverse effects on device battery performance and cellular reception.

“We see no valid reason to continue discussions on the adoption of this,” stated the letter dated October 17, which was reviewed by Helpleak.

None of the four companies involved nor India’s Ministry of Communications provided comments in response to requests. It’s worth noting that the proposal is still in the deliberation phase and could undergo modifications. There is no established timeline for its implementation, as indicated by a source with firsthand information.

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The digital broadcasting of TV channels on smartphones has seen limited uptake in countries like South Korea and the United States. The primary reason for this limited adoption is the scarcity of devices that support this technology, according to industry executives.

Resistance to the policy represents the most recent form of opposition from companies operating in India’s smartphone sector. Over the past few months, these firms have challenged India’s initiatives to ensure phone compatibility with a domestically produced navigation system and another proposal requiring security testing for handsets.

For the Indian government, the incorporation of live TV broadcast features serves as a strategy to alleviate congestion on telecom networks, a result of increased video consumption.

The India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA), a lobbying body representing smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Xiaomi among others, expressed opposition to the proposal in a letter dated October 16, asserting that ATSC 3.0 is not currently supported by any major handset manufacturer globally.

Samsung holds the leading position in India’s smartphone market with a 17.2% share, closely followed by Xiaomi at 16.6%, as reported by research firm Counterpoint. Apple accounts for 6% of the market share.

In the letter reviewed by Reuters, the ICEA expressed concerns, stating, “The inclusion of any technology that is unproven and not globally accepted will disrupt the momentum of domestic manufacturing.”

Reported by Munsif Vengattil; Edited by Aditya Kalra and Raju Gopalakrishnan.

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