Mobile television services will reach more than 500 million subscribers worldwide in 2011, up from just over 6 million at the end of 2005, according to a report from ABI Research.

The business will be worth several hundred billion dollars, says the report, but advertising revenue will significantly exceed that from subscriptions.

The mobile television market will be driven by the development of broadcast channels, rather than the unicast streams of existing services.

“Unicast will remain part of the mix, for customers who want to access video-on-demand,” said principal analyst Ken Hyers, “but ABI Research believes that the majority of subscription services will be for broadcast content, and that unicast-only subscriptions will not be a significant part of the market.”

South Korea and Japan are the early adopters, but European and North American markets are not far behind, with three contenders planning to introduce mobile video broadcast services in the United States over the next 12 to 18 months.

Qualcomm plans to launch its MediaFLO services before the end of 2006, followed by Hiwire from Aloha Partners and Modeo from Crown Castle in 2007. The report concludes that most markets will not be able to support more than two broadcast networks.

A separate report says that several semiconductor companies have designed $10 chipsets for receiving and displaying mobile television services, expected to fall to $5 within a few years, a tipping point at which they will be available in mid-range handsets, making it a mass market proposition.

The Broadcast and Unicast Mobile TV Services and Mobile TV Handsets and Semiconductors reports are published by ABI Research.