There are reported to be 1.2 million mobile television users in China. That number is predicted to reach 10 million by the end of 2009 and 50 million in 2010, according to the China Satellite Mobile Broadcasting Corporation. CSMBC was recently assigned by SARFT, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, to take charge of the operation of services using the China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting standard.
CMMB broadcasts are currently freely available through terrestrial transmissions. These were begun on a trial basis in 37 cities across China just before the Beijing Olympics.
It is expected that encryption will be introduced to enable subscription services, although some channels will remain available free of charge.
There has been some rivalry between SARFT and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology over which standards to adopt. SARFT has been pushing its CMMB standard, based on STiMi, or Satellite and Terrestrial interactive Multi-service infrastructure, while MIIT favours Terrestrial Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting standard, T-MMB.
China had planned to launch a satellite service in time for the Olympics. Echostar, which was to have provided the satellite through a Hong Kong subsidiary, China Mobile Broadcasting Satellite, quietly suspended construction of the satellite.
China is still expected to operate mobile television service based on a combination of satellite and terrestrial networks. Reports suggest that the China Satellite Mobile Broadcasting Corporation will be responsible for extending the network coverage across China from 2009.