Showing posts with label Mobile TV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mobile TV. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Do I hear TDtv again?

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb 12, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- NextWave Wireless Inc. (formerly IP Wireless) a global provider of mobile multimedia and broadband technologies, today paved the way for handset manufacturers to easily participate in the global market for TDtv by announcing a TDtv Device Integration Pack. Designed to meet the strict cost, size, and power consumption requirements established by some of Europe's largest mobile operators, NextWave's TDtv Device Integration Pack includes a low-power TDtv System in Package (SiP), a complete MBMS software stack, and MediaFusion multimedia client software from PacketVideo Corporation (PV). NextWave's turnkey solution will enable device vendors to deliver TDtv handsets to market in 2008 in support of the TDtv initiative announced today by NextWave, Orange and T-Mobile UK.

"Our TDtv device integration module provides a simple and inexpensive way for device manufacturers to integrate the power of TDtv into their next-generation WCMDA handsets," said Dr. Bill Jones, CEO of NextWave Network Products. "We're confident that a growing number of device manufacturers will support TDtv as mobile operators begin to accelerate wide-area deployments of TDtv systems."

TDtv is an innovative 3GPP MBMS solution that provides mobile operators an opportunity to profitably deliver up to 28 high-resolution TV channels, digital audio channels, and other IP data-cast services to an unlimited number of concurrent customers. By operating on existing 3G spectrum and with the unique ability to support multi-carrier spectrum pooling and network sharing, TDtv represents a breakthrough in reducing the cost of implementing mobile television and provides UMTS operators around the world with a powerful multimedia and advertising platform. Currently, more than 150 mobile network operators in over 50 countries have access to the spectrum needed to deliver TDtv to more than half a billion subscribers.

"When we looked at the available mobile TV technologies, TDtv was one of the technologies that impressed us the most, both from a performance as well as from a market opportunity perspective," said Michael Thelander, CEO of Signals Research Group, LLC. "With spectrum available across Europe and many parts of Asia and with two major operators now moving forward with an initiative, this is a market that handset vendors should take the time to explore."

NextWave's TDtv Device Integration Pack includes everything device manufacturers need to create a TDtv- enabled handset. The Device Integration Pack includes an integrated TDtv System in Package (SiP) measuring approximately 10x10 millimeters, a complete software suite that includes the required MBMS software stack, and TDtv radio access network controller software. The TDtv SiP includes a TDtv baseband chip, RF chip, receive filters and passives, and interfaces directly with the handset's application processor. This low power (active power consumption under 60 mW) solution enables device manufacturers to better meet network operator requirements for sleek and highly-attractive mobile TV handsets with internal antennas, and includes filters that allow for seamless coexistence with existing 2G and 3G services.

Meanwhile in Guardian:

T-Mobile and Orange will today announce a partnership to run a commercial trial in west London of a new mobile TV technology which could allow handset users to tune in to up to 100 channels.

The technology, TDTV, has been developed by US-based NextWave Wireless at its British unit in Chippenham, Wiltshire, and could provide a cheaper and more efficient way to get broadcast TV on to mobile phones. The trial, due to start in late summer, will see several thousand Londoners given either a new handset - made by a far eastern manufacturer rumoured to be LG - or a wireless receiver, no bigger than a matchbox, which will transfer the channels to their mobile phones.

The six-month test will see Orange and T-Mobile share their masts in London and install equipment that will allow them to broadcast 24 high-quality TV channels including several from the BBC and BSkyB, and 10 digital radio stations. It follows technical trials of the service carried out by Orange in Bristol last year. Orange and T-Mobile are also inviting O2, Vodafone and 3 to take part in the London test.

TDTV uses a slice of the 3G spectrum which Britain's five networks spent £22.5bn buying eight years ago and which has so far lain dormant. As a result, TDTV works with the phone companies' systems, making it easy to bill customers.

TDTV is more efficient and has more capacity for channels than other mobile TV solutions. Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and 3 are all offering mobile TV through their 3G networks but they suffer from congestion if more than a handful of customers use the service in the same place. TDTV uses a different part of the 3G spectrum and many more users can watch TV simultaneously.

The European Union has proposed using a Nokia-backed standard called DVB-H for mobile TV in member countries, but there will be no spectrum available for it in Britain until the analogue TV signal is switched off in 2012, and the operators will have to pay if they want it.

DVB-H, which O2 tested in Oxford two years ago, can carry only about two dozen channels while TDTV could have up to 100.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Broadcast Views

Interesting article from, i had missed earlier. Mobile TV is one of my pet topics so if you see me not mentioning about some important article then do mention it here.
Important points highlighted below:

As we approach the final quarter of 2007, however, the future of mobile TV is,
if anything, more uncertain. As individual carriers in different markets adopt their preferred technologies, the list of 'standard' broadcast solutions seems to be growing at the same rate as new services are launched.

In Europe, during the summer, the EC finally backed DVB-H for mobile TV rather than remaining technology neutral. In Japan and South Korea, service uptake on existing ISDB-T, and T-DMB and S-DMB, is continuing to build, albeit slowly. In the US, Verizon and AT&T have both selected Qualcomm's MediaFLO solution, which launched in March and Verizon has already gone live.

Meanwhile, BT Movio's, and therefore Virgin Mobile's, DAB solution in the UK folded due to poor uptake less than one year after launch, along with Crown Castle's DVB-H solution in the US.

On Europe, David McQueen, principal analyst Informa Telecoms&Media says: "It is possible to see the logic of support for a single mobile TV standard for Europe. GSM as a de facto standard allowed economies of scale in the industry, and made roaming easier. In theory, therefore, choosing DVB-H, is like getting the whole of Europe to go down the GSM route. Also, you are backing the frontrunner."

But backing a frontrunner that won't arrive in some markets until 2012 seems a trifle premature; at least, so says ROK TV CEO, Bruce Renny: "You have got to look at when this service is going to be available in the UK. I can tell you, 2012 at the earliest when the last of the analogues is switched off. Now 2012 in the mobile environment is a lifetime away. I mean, a month is a long time in the mobile entertainment space, quite apart from five or six years."

A recent report from Dutch analyst house Telecompaper revealed that, although three operators (KPN, Vodafone and Orange) in the Netherlands offer mobile TV, only 1.4 per cent of subscribers has watched TV using a cellphone. In fact, from a list of 22 unique data services, mobile TV was the least popular.

M:Metrics, meanwhile, found that the number of subscribers that watched any commercial programmed mobile TV and/or video, once or more, in a month in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK combined, in the three months ending July 2007, was 2,386,795. It looks like a fair size number, but in reality it's only 1.12 per cent of subscribers.

In a recent strategic report Mobile TV: Broadcast Network Rollouts, Business Models and Handsets, Informa Telecoms&Media predicts the market for broadcast mobile TV devices grew from 0.81 million in 2005 to just over four million in 2006. These devices are expected to find their way into 12.3 per cent of new handset sales by 2012, representing an expected market of 178 million phones.

The ITM report states that an inflection point is expected to occur in 2009 as network rollout and device availability allow for the market to reach some level of critical mass. Informa goes on to predict that there will be 335.6 million broadcast mobile TV users worldwide by 2012, up from a mere 12.1 million expected in 2007, with an inflection point expected in 2009-2010.

According to Informa, a number of possible scenarios emerge that could enhance or dilute mobile operator strengths in the mobile TV value chain.
First, the 'discrete' business model, where the MNO chooses to provide TV services only over its own cellular networks, or via network optimised solutions, with no other broadcast network interaction. Second, the 'principal' business model, where the MNO is lead player in the broadcast TV industry, which includes some level of interaction with broadcast network services. Third, a 'converged' business model, where the MNO and others in the value chain work in cooperation to take advantage of the complementary nature of cellular and broadcast networks. And fourth, the 'bypassed' business model, where the MNO is bypassed altogether by a broadcast network operator in providing mobile broadcast TV, but may still provide an uplink.

There are advantages and disadvantages that go along with each of the above scenarios. The discrete model will appeal most to those operators that have already invested in a 3G network, since it requires minimal further investment and it ensures that the MNO retains full control of the service and therefore will derive the optimal revenues.

Not surprisingly, most of the noise coming from tech vendors at the moment surrounds rolling out new kit as part of a broadcast solution. Detractors of the discrete model point out that a unicast offering is limiting and would have a detrimental effect on other 3G services in the cell. Therefore, they say, operators need to embrace either a principal or converged model.

"We already have mobile TV on networks with 3G. So if you have invested in a 3G network it is very cheap to deploy a service," points out Alban Couturier, mobile TV product manager, Thomson. "But for users the data cost is high. Which puts people off. Using DVB-H you have lots of costs to deploy, but new customer additions are cheap. Once you reach critical mass, the costs become very low. You can't have that with 3G," he says.

One firm only too happy to be involved in Vodafone's discrete model is British Sky Broadcasting. Steven Nuttall, director commercial group, British Sky Broadcasting, speaking on a recent webinar, outlined how pleased he is with the pace of mobile TV in the UK: "A year or so into running a service, we've got several hundred thousand customers, paying real money to use it. We've got millions of people using more general mobile services, many of which are video, so I don't know at what point you would say that video is a mass market. I think it is reasonable to say that at a minimum we're pretty close to that point already."

ROK TV's Renny says his firm offers a discrete solution for carriers that have yet to rollout 3G networks. "There are 100 million people worldwide who have signed up to 3G. It sounds impressive, but that's about three per cent of the global mobile market. A 100 million uptake across a three billion market place is, in anyone's language, niche."

ROK offers the ability to stream video over what Renny says are vastly underused GPRS networks. "I think linear TV over mobile phones will prove very popular indeed. The question is how many people will be willing to pay a subscription service to receive linear TV on their mobile phone? Particularly, when you get all that at home for free. The notion of 'build it and they will come' is flawed," he says.

Renny points out that TV on the mobile is not the same as broadcast TV. "It isn't viewed in the same way, it is delivered through a different vehicle and it is a different animal completely. Broadcast TV available on mobile phones will prove popular, but only as a value add in a general mobile bundle. As a stand alone subscription service it will have very limited uptake indeed," he says.

Another firm that advocates taking full advantage of existing resources is IPWireless. The firm's TDtv offering uses the 5Mhz of UMTS TDD spectrum that the majority of 3G operators across Europe have at their disposal. Thanks to the 3GPP specified MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Services), operators can take an existing 3G network and render it multicast, rather than unicast.

The firm had a multi-operator trial in the UK city of Bristol last year. CMO Jon Hambidge told MCI the technology matches DVB-H and MediaFLO in terms of available channels and he is confident that an operator in Europe will go live with the service sometime next year.

"A lot of people are questioning the need for broadcast services," says Hambidge. "One of the reasons is that they are very expensive. I've seen some economic analysis on DVB-H showing that it has a very hard time breaking even down at a ??????5 type level. I think the economic analysis we've seen shows that TDtv, for an MNO, is going to breakeven somewhere around a five times lower price point. So it really keeps mobile TV as a 3G service."

While ROK's Renny may think the 'build it and they'll come' scenario is flawed, Qualcomm would disagree. The San Diego firm's subsidiary MediaFLO USA rolled out its mobile TV solution across America going live in March 2007. Subsequent to that, Verizon launched a service on the network, and will soon be followed by AT&T.

"There are a lot of challenges with that pure wholesale approach," says Omar Javaid, VP of global strategy and business development at Qualcomm. "The interesting thing about mobile TV is that it is a converged service and there are so many different industries involved. When the telecommunications industry is looking at it, they're looking at it primarily from an infrastructural and technology approach, and what tends to get missed in that equation is the whole content rights issue."

Javaid highlights a common assumption that the free-to-air broadcasters will simply provide their content for mobile TV platforms. While the content providers will maintain that the rights for free-to-air broadcast do not extend to this kind of platform. So the content rights need renegotiating, and they're not free. "When you work out the match it becomes much more expensive. Both from a wholesale perspective and then subsequently a retail perspective. I don't think it is impossible to do, but somebody ends up having a pretty marginal business," he says.

Each of the networks under consideration for delivering mobile TV has their own advantages and drawbacks. The most recurrent themes are the ability to provide a one-to-many broadcast topology, network and device costs, reception quality, regulation, spectrum allocation and efficiency, handset manufacturer and network vendor support, and technology fragmentation in different geographic regions.

Broadcast networks use spectrum allocation and one-to-many broadcast efficiently, unlike many of the mobile TV point-to-point offerings available over cellular networks, even 3G, which put the network under enormous strain. The broadcast network technologies, such as DVB-H, MediaFLO and DMB, are far more efficient in terms of time and bandwidth usage, which means they are more cost effective, but they do not enable fully interactive content, something that the cellular networks can provide. However, fragmentation of the market into different technologies using different frequencies is a major risk for the nascent mobile broadcast TV market.

For now, the most sensible plan looks like the one advocated by Anders Kalvemark of Ericsson: "I think we will see various types here. Our main strategy is that the operators will have their own 3G networks and then they will enable broadcast capabilities, which could be NGN, so the evolution of 3G. Dedicated broadcast networks will probably arrive, they already have in a few countries, but it is obviously a large investment. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a consortium of operators coming together to set up these types of network."

Alban Couturier of Thomson: "3G operators should leverage existing services by offering a hybrid of services. They should offer the most popular channels over broadcast, but they should offer the long tail over 3G because it is ideally suited for video on demand."

Of the four models described by Informa Telecoms&Media, it is possible that, for the longer term success of the mobile TV industry, cooperation and understanding between the players in the value chain, providing a converged solution will ensure the best possible experience for the customer. This allows broadcast media to be combined with, and used to complement, cellular communications to enrich the user experience and encourage interactivity. There will undoubtedly be problems with implementing this scenario with so many large brands fighting turf wars. But, if the industry can overcome its natural competitiveness in this instance, it will allow the delivery of new revenue sources for all in the value chain.

However, mobile operators currently offer mobile video and TV services over their own 2.5G and 3G networks and the advent of broadcast networks in the mobile space will undoubtedly affect their stature in the ecosystem. Although much is made regarding operators providing a return channel for interactive services, a potential future scenario could be one where even the provision of this channel is taken away as return channels become more prevalent through the broadcast network, weakening the position of the mobile operator in the mobile TV value chain.

In contrast, the migration by the operators to next-generation 3.5G and 4G networks could also negate the need by the operator to involve broadcast networks in the provision of mobile TV as these will allow for greater speed and bandwidth to provide a more cost-effective mobile TV offering.

Back in 2006, Virgin Mobile's head of mobile TV Paul Coombes told MCI his firm was launching using a DAB solution because it was "available". Right now, that choice seems like folly. Not surprisingly, neither BT nor Virgin wanted to comment for this piece. In fairness, there really are no sure things in this industry. But right now, trying to back a winning solution looks more like an expensive gamble rather than a sound investment.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Mobile TV via Satellite

A heading of news article yesterday read: "European mobile operators are looking for economic ways of launching broadcast mobile TV services directly to handsets". This made me wonder, if there is a strong case for Mobile TV via Satellite?

Couple of days back, 3 Italia reported that it had 719,000 people using its DVB-H service by August 22, which is about 9.4 percent of its 7.68 million customer base reports Dow Jones in Italian. The figure is a good sign—at the beginning of June it was 600,000 and back in March it was 250,000, or about 3.7 percent of the subscriber base. So this proves that some people are using Mobile TV if available.

The only popular satellite Mobile TV i am aware of being used practically (please correct me if you know more) is the S-DMB being used in Korea.

According to a report in Moconews, currently some 7 million people in S. Korea are watching mobile TV--that equates to one in every seven residents of the country--but none of the operators offering DMB services has yet to make any money. Each of the six terrestrial DMB operators has piled up an accumulated loss of between $22 million and $33 million. The only mobile TV operator that charges for its service is SK Telecom-owned TU Media, which offers its DMB service over a satellite-based system (S-DMB). It has 1.2 million paid subscribers, but TU says it needs at least 2.5 million to break even in operation. That’s before it can even start to recoup its $435 million investment in satellites and networks.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has joined the DVB-H party by funding development of technologies for broadcasting TV to mobiles via satellite. ESA has called its standard DVB-SH (Digital Video Broadcast - Satellite, Handheld) and envisages using satellites to send out video at 2GHz to 4GHz (S-Band). Terrestrial repeaters would be used to give indoor coverage. Eutelsat has commissioned a new satellite to be launched in 2009, with the intention of broadcasting DVB-SHb - though it's hedging its bets by claiming it's for multimedia distribution rather than any specific technology or application. Much of the technology needed by DVB-SH doesn't yet exist, so the ESA will be issuing invitations to tender (ITT) for companies that want to have a go at developing them. First up will be a mobile chipset capable of receiving and decoding DVB-SH version b signals. The ITT is due to be published in the next few months.

Finally i found a good report on BetaNews detailing the pros and cons of Satellite Mobile TV:

It's an ambitious idea, and it's not nearly a done deal. But yesterday, a proposal was introduced before the European Parliament for a timetable by which the EU would select a few choice service providers, for the precious and narrow spectrum it will be making available for the entire continent. It will require the consent and cooperation of all 27 member states - something the EU rarely gets even with less ambitious proposals.

Here's what it means: Last February, the EU established two small chunks of radio spectrum - 1980-2010 MHz and 2170-2200 MHz - as reserve space for future MSS broadcasting. Under normal EU law, member states would each have the right to select their own service providers for satellite TV and radio service for their respective countries. In fact, if the EU were to change its mind now and do nothing, that's what EU states would do next.

But there's two big problems: First of all, no single EU country is very big, geographically speaking, compared to the whole of Europe. A satellite signal covers a very broad portion of the Earth, so any service provider licensed for, say, France could probably have its signal picked up in southern Finland. Simply put, the laws of physics dictate a wide coverage area that technology cannot circumvent...unless every mobile TV receiver in Europe were custom-built for each member country. (If you're thinking like a manufacturer of DVD consoles, you might not be too opposed to trying that.)

Even if France's signal and England's and Bulgaria's and all the others could be picked up everywhere else - which, if you think about it, will be the case anyway - Bulgaria's service provider wouldn't want its signal overlapping England's. And that leads us to the second big problem: There's not enough MSS spectrum available in the 2 GHz band to go around.

So the European Union is stepping in, or at least attempting to. But in order for member states to allow it to do so, it has to formally present its case to those states for why it has the authority to do so. Imagine if, under a different style of US constitution, in order for the federal government to make its case for regulating the public airwaves, it had to get all 50 states' consent to giving up their own rights to do so individually.
Thus a large part of the EU proposal yesterday explains - as it must do under European law - why it's claiming the authority to propose a national selection process for MSS providers.

For its claim to qualify as valid, it has to meet two tests under the EU constitution. First, the claim must meet the Subsidiarity Principle: essentially, that the nature of the job at hand means it can be performed better by the EU than by all the 27 states acting independently. In other words, the EU has to prove it can do the job not because it's better at these sorts of things, but because the problem at hand makes a single body better suited to the task.

Here is where the EU has physics on its side: Satellite signals cover broad territory, and states' boundaries do not. "Selection and issuance of rights over the same spectrum to different satellite operators in different Member States would prevent satellites from covering their natural footprint," the EU proposal reads, "which by nature covers a large number of countries; it would risk fragmenting the satellite communications market and eliminate the natural advantage of satellites compared to other modes of communication. The mobile character of the services involved also means that citizens travelling in the EU should benefit from the availability of such services throughout the EU."

Second, the EU's case must meet the Proportionality Principle. This means it can't claim more authority than it needs to do the job...and once the job is done, it steps out of the way. In other words, it can't appoint a permanent commission like the FCC.

In making that part of the case, the EU goes on, "The proposal will create a mechanism for coordinating the selection and definition of certain conditions to be attached to rights of use of spectrum. It will not touch upon the right of Member States to grant the authorizations to use the spectrum or to attach specific conditions applying to the provision of services in areas which are not harmonized. Member States will be closely involved in elaborating the details of the selection procedure."

Here is where critics say the EU's case may fall apart. In order to win the authority to drive the MSS adoption process, the EU is limiting itself to driving the selection process for prospective service providers. Once that job is done, it's leaving it up to member states to apportion per-country licenses to those companies, for channels which the EU would already have selected as well.

On the one hand, it doesn't make sense. In order to sell its plan, the EU is leaving open the option for member states to deny licenses. But assuming a state does so, how could it block the reception of a signal from a service provider whose license was denied? That might take a technological solution...which brings up the whole "per-country" manufacturing option for MSS receivers again.

On the other hand, only such a hare-brained scheme might just work, because member states don't want to be perceived by their citizens as ceding any part of their authority to a federal institution. Giving them the right to say "no" could be a kind of ceremonial concession, not unlike the establishment of a constitutional monarchy where the monarch is essentially a face on a coin - which is a state of affairs not unfamiliar to member states.

"Since industry so far could not agree on a single standard for mobile TV, commercial launches of mobile TV are delayed," reads a statement from the EU's central authority in Brussels last month. "Europe's competitors, most notably from Asia, have made significant progress - partly due to state intervention - and Europe risks losing its competitive edge unless sufficient momentum is achieved. This is why there is a need to develop a 'blueprint' for mobile TV in Europe."

Friday, 17 August 2007

'3' starts MBMS trials

The mobile operator '3' has again taken a major step forward by starting Mobile-TV trials using Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS). The trials are in conjunction with Ericsson. The following from the press release:
3 Italy uses DVB-H for its Mobile TV offering. However, MBMS is being developed under the auspices of the global 3GPP standards body.

MBMS uses existing 3G networks and spectrum for content delivery, building on existing infrastructure. To deliver MBMS, upgrades are made to the existing network as well as content and broadcast servers. 3G mobile phones with support for MBMS are expected to be available in 2008, said the company.

MBMS is a different approach to Mobile TV combining both broadcast and unicast shows (though multicast is more accurate). It also gives consumers opportunity to interact by voting, sending messages, accessing downloads of related content and special promotions from advertisers.

"MBMS as part of the 3G evolution is an attractive technology not only because of its flexibility and efficiency, but because it's quick and easy to deploy and leverages existing infrastructure," said Kursten Leins, Strategic Marketing Manager - Multimedia, Ericsson. "MBMS allows an unlimited number of users to watch the same mobile TV program at the same time in the same area, as well as enabling valuable user interaction with advertisements, campaigns and programs."

"3 pioneered 3G in Australia, so it was a great opportunity to see the country's first MBMS technology trial run on Australia's first 3G network," Leins added. Since the MBMS signal can be pin pointed to specific geographies, it's also possible to broadcast different mobile TV programs to different areas, giving a locally-specific customer experience and also providing highly targeted mobile advertising opportunities.
"We are very happy with the trial - the technology worked well and apart from delivering a good customer experience, it's extremely efficient in terms of network traffic and capacity, and provides new levels of customer involvement with their programs," said Michael Young, Director Technology & Services, 3 Australia.
The technical trial was held in 3's Sydney Head office over 6 weeks and run by Ericsson who developed the trial system. Using four specially designed prototype handsets, Ericsson also installed equipment to simulate the content and broadcast servers on a section of 3's network so the customer and network experience could be seen.

"The trial has been very interesting, and we'll continue to work with Ericsson to keep a close eye on the technology and the handsets to support MBMS as they develop," Young added.
More on MBMS can be found here.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Which Mobile TV technology to go for?

There is aa lot of confusion regarding which mobile TV technology to go for. An article in Telecoms Online gives an idea regarding which way the Chinese market is going for mobile TV.

A recent survey shows more than 40 percent of cell phone users in China like the idea of watching TV on handsets. Some pundits even predict the number of mobile TV users in China will jump to nearly 60 million in 2008, and revenue from handset sales and programming will generate 1.3 billion yuan (US$170m).

The road to mobile TV, however, most likely will be bumpy. Current trials have found several vulnerabilities, such as handset display hang-up when video content is loaded, short battery life and overheating, that must be fixed.

What’s really hindering mobile TV development in China (and, arguably, in other geographical regions), however, is lack of agreement on one standard. In June, a government agency overseeing the mobile TV industry reaffirmed CMMB (China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting) as the official standard for 3G video service. The reason: CMMB is homegrown and completely free of foreign IPRs.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and TV developed CMMB last October, but a tug-of-war over the standard has undermined SARFT’s efforts to implement it this year. Despite a slow start, SARFT has obtained 25MHz in bandwidth on 2.5GHz for CMMB service and plans to build networks for the Olympics in six cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Qingdao.

The other contenders CMMB must fight are DVB-H (Europe), Media-FLO (United States), T-DMB (Korea), DMB-TH (a digital TV spec modified for handheld developed by Tsinghua University), T-MMB (Nufrontsoft, which is aligned with MII, the Chinese telecom regulatory body) and CMB (Huawei).

For now, CMMB appears to be most appealing because of SARFT backing. SARFT’s control of programming and distribution in China gives CMMB a huge regulatory and cost advantage over rival mobile TV standards.
Recognizing that CMMB has clout in China, a large industry alliance of 120 companies backs the standard, including heavyweights such as Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, and Chinese firms like Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE.

One of the main benefits of CMMB, according to SARFT, is that it does not charge royalties for two years, saving an estimated 1 billion yuan (US$130m) in foreign IPR payments. SARFT hopes the savings will encourage handset manufacturers to cooperate in perfecting the standard and expediting proliferation.

There are other concerns. Some Chinese standards are not really independent but a hodgepodge of foreign versions. Reports say T-MMB, developed by Nufrontsoft, incorporates certain core DAB patents like DMB that will be in effect until 2013. Critics say if Chinese handset makers adopt T-MMB they will have to dole out hefty royalties–about US$6 per set or up to US$120m to US$300m per year.

CMMB and T-MMB use different approaches to video transmission and delivery. T-MMB uses a streaming overlay on top of mobile infrastructure, so that it shares the total bandwidth and download speed for the service, like the current video service. CMMB relies on a tuner installed in the handset to receive video signals over the air.

The T-MMB advocates say adding a tuner will compromise other features affecting handset and overall performance, while the CMMB supporters predict T-MMB will be dead on arrival because video traffic will crash the network and cost will skyrocket.

The debate over mobile TV standards is not just about patriotism and technology. SARFT has jurisdiction over broadcasting via various media outlets, including handheld devices, while T-MMB is a brainchild of MII which, by default, only provides a transmission conduit to end users but not content and distribution.

The problem is that both sides see mobile TV as a golden opportunity but want to run the market on their own terms. At this time, the central government sees it as a market issue and is reluctant to provide guidelines, so tussle over mobile TV probably will go on for some time before technical issues are straightened out.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

BT Movio ... going ... going ... gone

UK national telecommunication company British Telecom (BT) has closed its mobile broadcast branch BT Movio. The delivery platform developed by BT Movio supports the only mobile broadcast TV service in the UK. The service is retailed by UK largest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile. The operator declared that the service will carry on until the beginning of next year. BT has cancelled its contract with GCap Media which provided access to the Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) spectrum. GCap mentioned that the cancellation will take effect on 9 June 2008. GCap subsidiary Digital One which is in charge of the spectrum is currently seeking other partners to replace BT Movio.
Virgin had released only one handset — the HTC-manufactured "Lobster phone" — which supported the technology, and sales of that device were poor. The Lobster phone was seen by critics as an unattractive handset and, being based on Windows Mobile, it was not ideally suited to the consumer sector.
However, the final straw for BT was the recent backing given by the European Commission to the mobile broadcast technology Digital Video Broadcasting — Handheld (DVB-H). BT Movio was based on the rival Digital Audio Broadcasting — IP (DAB-IP) standard, which reused digital radio spectrum to deliver a handful of TV channels and a range of digital radio stations. DVB-H promises more channels, but spectrum availability for that technology had looked uncertain until it became apparent last week that the European Commission would force member states to adopt the standard.
According to screendigest:
Unicast mobile TV (i.e. distributed through 3G networks) has been relatively successful in the UK with three major operators launching services with more than 25 TV channels on average. According to Screen Digest, they were almost 450,000 mobile TV subscribers at the end of 2006. While unicast mobile TV can offer a wide range of TV content, the infrastructure can only sustain a limited number of users. In order to support mass market adoption mobile broadcast TV networks must be deployed. BT Movio launched the broadcast mobile TV service with Virgin Mobile in September 2006. The service showed poor uptake during the first 3 months with less than 10,000 subscribers. Factors blamed for the poor uptake include a lack of content and poor handset availability. The upcoming UK auction for L-Band spectrum could have given BT Movio the opportunity to increase the capacity of the current platform and improve the channel line-up. However, the BT Movio platform requires IP compatibility from the broadcast network technology. DVB-H, DAB and MBMS support IP encapsulation. T-DMB, the preferred technology for the L-Band spectrum auction, does not support IP. Therefore, BT Movio was stuck with a platform which cannot draw enough attention from mobile operators, handset manufacturers and inevitably mobile subscribers.
The UK operator '3' is keen to big up its own mobile TV and video services in the wake of BT's announcement. 3 UK says its customers have:
  • Downloaded more than a million reality TV clips in the last year.
  • Downloaded over a million SeeMeTV clips every month, with £100,000 being made by budding directors in the process.
  • Last summer watched World Cup TV on their mobiles nearly 4 million times.
Among the live streamed channels 3 offers are BBC1, BBC3 and ITV1, with access starting at 49p a day. Its also allows customers to access TV from their set-top's with a Slingbox app.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

OMA seeks to ease mobile TV pain

The Open Mobile Alliance's recently-unveiled BCAST Enabler specification is designed to create a 'write once, run anywhere' environment' for broadcasters and other content providers. The spec - if widely adopted - could have significant implications for the concept of mobile TV 'roaming'.
In theory, it means broadcasters will be able to deploy their programming across the whole gamut of broadcast mobile TV platforms - DVB-H, DVB-SH, DMB, DAB-IP, ATSC-M/H etc - with little or no tweaking.
Because it works with any IP-based content delivery technology BCAST Enabler can also be used for the delivery of programming across cellular systems like 3GPP MBMS, 3GPP2 BCMCS and mobile unicast streaming systems, such as 3G streaming.

What benefits will OMA BCAST offer broadcasters and broadcast network operators?
• The specification enables broadcast-only mode for delivering services. It also allows broadcast-only terminals and free-to-air content with service and content protection capability.

• The specification is agnostic to access network meaning that the same service offering can be delivered over broadcast channel, interaction channel or both. Being agnostic to underlying architecture allows integration of the broadcast offering with operators or independent delivery over the interaction channel, which is controlled by broadcaster.

• Service interactivity is well specified and caters for broad range of services including interactive and direct feedback from viewers. Also, the service interactivity is not bound to the cellular channel – WLAN or a similar network can also be used. The use of the interaction channel allows personalization of services and service guides.

• The Service Guide enables the broadcaster to associate broadcast
programming with on-demand content. In addition, it supports both broadcast and on-demand delivery of the Service Guide itself.

What benefits will OMA BCAST offer terminal manufacturers?

• The Mobile TV Enabler specifies features for a common TV & video service layer that are currently not addressed by other specifications but still needed to ensure interoperability for large-scale terminal availability.

• Enables economies of scale by leveraging same technologies for both
broadcast and interactive channels. This means vendors can build an
economically viable terminal base that can be used by operators/carriers or broadcasters or jointly by both.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Things our phone will do in next 10 years

Interesting article in Cnet on "10 things your mobile will do in next 10 years"

1. Wallet: This would be quite cool when available. Have been hearing about this for years now. Apparently very popular in Japan and S.Korea where people are not using credit cards anymore and instead using Phones.

A much better idea would be to have a universal recognition kind of chip which i can use as Credit card, Smart Card for Trains (In london we have Oyester cards) and then i can use this for accessing company door, garage door , etc. This would be a real killer app but doesnt look like will happen in near (or far) future

2. Internet: In December, ABI Research said that almost 50 million people used social-networking sites on their mobile phones. That number is expected to grow to 174 million by 2011. It would be cool to be able to browse using your phone. Mosst of the sites i use (including mine) are not mobile friendly and this is the thing that is turning people off the net.

3. Location: Already too many phones supporting GPS and A-GPS. The chips are becoming cheaper with cost of around $5 so the manufacturers should have no problem. In future we will get disscounted packages where we will have to receive adverts which would be location specific. Nokia has some applications which can compete with TomTom for getting directions, etc.

4. Search: Hardly anything needs to be mentioned for this.

5. TV: Have written enough on Mobile TV already. IMS Research forecasts that by 2011 there will be more than 30 million mobile TV subscribers in the United States. The firm also predicts that almost 70 million handsets capable of receiving mobile TV will be shipped in the U.S. in 2011.

6. Simplified surfing: From the Cnet article

Ever notice how many clicks it takes to find the one thing you're looking for on your phone? It's worse than counting how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. But handset makers and mobile operators are
hard at work trying to make phones easier to navigate and simpler to use.

The upcoming
iPhone from Apple is a perfect example of how user interfaces will be improved. Apple fans are confident that the company has come up with another slick and intuitive
design, just as it did for the iPod.

One aspect of the iPhone's interface that has been publicized is its use of sensory technology to detect when the device is rotated. This allows the phone to automatically render pictures on the screen in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) format. That allows the user to determine which format is best for viewing whatever is on the screen, be
it a Web page, video, or photo.

In the future,
motion-sensing technology, similar to that used in the Nintendo Wii game console, will also allow people to navigate their cell phone menus or the mobile Internet
with a flick of their wrists.

But motion sensing is just one piece of the puzzle. Operators such as Verizon Wireless are redesigning their content menus
to reduce the number of clicks users must endure to find what they want. Ryan Hughes, vice president of digital media programming for Verizon Wireless, said he believes that user interfaces will be customizable so that users can decide
for themselves which applications will be displayed on their phones most prominently.

Motorola is already offering a customizable interface on the
Razr 2, which the company claims will make searching for contacts, accessing applications, and messaging much easier.

7. Brainier radios: Maybe in future SDRs (Software Defined Radios) may become more common and popular and yes the technology will become feasible. Also multiple radios on the chpset would mean Handovers will be possible from 3G to WiMax, Wifi, etc.

8. Personal Cell: Everyone seems to be talking of Femtocell. Where we will have a small 3G base station in our home. We could use it for Voice or High Speed data. No need for the POTS and use mobile for everything. This will still take some time as the operators dont fully understand the benefits of offering cheap data.

9. Perfect Camera: Today roughly 41 percent of American households own a camera phone. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to buy a phone today that doesn't have a camera. By 2010 more than 1 billion mobile phones in the world will ship with an embedded camera, up from the 589 million camera phones that are expected to be sold in 2007, according to market research firm Gartner.

10. More music on the phone: Mobile phone users around the globe are expected to spend $32.2 billion on music for their handsets by 2010, up from $13.7 billion in 2007, according to Gartner. This can only happen when Music Video/Audio becomes cheaper though. Personally i would prefer listening to FM Radio rather than music but i am not sure how much demand there would be and ofcourse the operators dont gain anything.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Mobile TV in Top Ten of mobile services

In a report published by Analysis, the global advisers on telecoms, IT and media, Mobile TV shows up in the Top ten most used non voice services on mobile phones.
This new report identifies the top ten services from a large number of non-voice services worldwide, and provides detailed case studies and analysis of these leading services to help others replicate their success. The report provides unique guidance to mobile operators (as well as MVNOs and third party service providers) on the best opportunities to increase their non-voice service revenues.
1. Vodafone’s Casa FASTWEB DSL service (Italy)
2. O2’s SMS service (UK)
3. 3’s 3G mobile TV and video streaming service (UK)
4. T-Mobile’s BlackBerry email and instant messaging service (USA)
5. Sprint Nextel’s CDMA2000 EV-DO Revision A mobile broadband service (USA)
6. 3’s DVB-H mobile TV broadcasting service (Italy)
7. KDDI au’s EZ Chaku-uta Full music downloading service (Japan)
8. SK Telecom’s Cyworld Mobile community portal service (South Korea)
9. NTT DoCoMo’s DCMX mobile credit service (Japan)
10. Vodafone’s MiniCall ‘voice SMS’ service (Egypt)
Mobile TV services are a key element of the 3G service mix that has enabled 3 UK to claim non-voice ARPU of more than USD25 per month, which is currently the highest in the world”, says Dr Mark Heath, co-author of the report.

“In Italy, mobile TV subscribers of 3’s DVB-H service generate 60% higher ARPU than its other mobile customers. While some mobile TV services, such as Virgin Mobile’s DAB-IP service in the UK, are making slow progress, 3 shows that it is possible to make a short-term success of mobile TV.”

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Mobile TV and MBMS will co exist

Someone brought my attention towards a Digitimes article where some people from Israel-based mobile chip designer Siano Mobile Silicon are talking about Mobile TV and MBMS. Some of the interesting points below.

Q: And what about multicast?

A: (Jashek) Again, multicast will end up placing a strain on the system bandwidth. The current MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service) capacity is limited to 2Mb/sec, while a broadcast system will provide bandwidth of 16-32Mb/sec, which is the bandwidth needed to support about 20 channels. Upgrading any existing cellular network so that it supports MBMS at 15-20Mbps (while not hurting the voice capabilities of the network) requires an investment that is by far larger than building a good mobile TV broadcast system.

We believe video-over-cellular services such as MBMS will continue to exist, but will gradually focus on “on demand” services, while actual mobile TV services will use a broadcast platform.
(Raab) Content will be broadcast to users, but users will be involved in the content, such as in programs that involve voting. And the way to create profits from this is to get more people involved in the service and bundling services to increase the amount of data that is going through the network, but in such a way that it does not strain the system.

Q: But who will build the broadcast infrastructure? Do you expect broadcasters and cellcos to be competitors or partners?

A: (Jashek) Most operators are facing the question of whether they should invest themselves or whether they should partner with a broadcaster to develop the infrastructure. In Italy, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) has deployed a mobile TV service where it is the service provider, even though Mediaset (a broadcaster) built the primary broadcast infrastructure. On the other hand, 3-Italia have made their own investment into a DVB-H network, and they enjoy a very good attach rate.

In the US, Qualcomm's subsidiary MediaFLO has solved this dilemma for the operators by building the network itself. The only thing Verizon or Cingular had to do was sign a contract with Qualcomm and offer the service.

Thus, different models exist. The relationship between broadcasters and cellcos will be one of the key issues affecting the success of mobile TV in the future. Most broadcasters already have the spectrum, as well as the content. They are currently using that for analog terrestrial TV, but in the future it will be used for digital mobile TV. However, cellcos already have a network that supports interactive programming. They also have an infrastructure in place for service and billing.

The question is how well can cellcos and broadcasters get along. What TIM has done, is take revenues from its mobile TV service and split it evenly with the broadcaster. In the future, we expect to see a similar type of model where broadcasters focus on broadcast services and operators focus on interacting with the customer.

Q: You mentioned that current analog TV spectrum will be allocated to mobile TV in the future. Can you add more color to that statement and explain how that will affect the development of the mobile TV market?

A: (Jashek) I should note that the development of mobile TV will go hand in hand with the migration of terrestrial analog TV to digital TV. For example, if you look at the DVB standard (DVB-T for terrestrial TV and DVB-H for mobile TV), which will be the DTV standard deployed in the most markets worldwide, currently about 30 countries have DVB-T networks, while another 30 will join in one to three years. Once the DVB-T networks are in place, you will see huge growth in DVB-H support because it does not take much investment to add DVB-H support to a DVB-T network.

Getting back to your specific question, a lot of countries have allocated spectrum to mobile TV on a temporary basis. Once governments start turning off their analog services in 2010, that spectrum will be allocated to mobile TV on a more permanent basis, and you will see a big jump in the size of the market.

We expect to see 120-130 million mobile TV users worldwide by 2010, with DVB-H being the number one platform. By 2012-2013 when more markets switch off their analog services, we expect to see 300-400 million people enjoying broadcast mobile TV.

Q: As you mentioned, DVB-H will be deployed in the most markets, however the global mobile TV market remains fragmented. Can you comment on the implications of how such a fragmented global market might affect the development of mobile TV?

A: (Raab) Obviously, with the huge expected size of the mobile TV market, a lot of different organizations would like to have a piece of the pie. Hence, a number of broadcast mobile TV technologies have been developed. Eventually, economy of scales will not allow more than about four technologies to survive in large volumes. It looks like the partitioning will be geographical.
(Jashek) DVB-H has its stronghold in Europe, where it was originally pushed by local players such as Nokia and Philips, and where DVB-T, the "mother" of DVB-H, has strong momentum. We have no doubt that DVB-H will dominate mobile TV in Europe, and DVB-T will also be supported on some hand-held devices. DVB-H is also expected to be the dominant standard in Southeast Asia – Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia – and the Pacific Rim. In countries with vast rural areas, such as Russia or Canada, we expect that, around 2010-2011, DVB-H will be unified with DVB-SH (the satellite version of DVB-H). This will optimize the coverage with respect to the infrastructure investment required.

MediaFLO seems to be the winner in North America, although we would not be surprised if DVB-H will also be deployed there.

In Japan, as well as Brazil and a couple other South American countries, ISDB-T will dominate. And South Korea will continue with its T-DMB for some time, although being the only nation to have large-scale deployment of this standard will make it difficult for Korea to maintain it for many years. In China, the homegrown standard known as CMMB (S-TIMI) will be the main platform for mobile TV.

(Raab) Another thing to remember is that not only are the standards fragmented but so is spectrum support.

With the big picture being so unclear, device makers are looking for help to develop a solution that fits as many markets as possible. That’s why three years ago Siano came up with the concept of a multi-standard and multi-band mobile TV chip solution.

Our chips currently support the DVB-H/T, DAB and T-DMB standards, as well as covering the VHF, UHF, L1 (1450-1490MHz) and L2 (1660-1680MHz) spectrums. In addition, we will very soon have ISDB-T supported, while CMMB and MediaFLO are also on our roadmap. We are members of the CMMB working group, and the FLO Forum.

Q: Several mobile TV trials have been hampered by a lack of handset support, why is that?

A: (Raab) Handset makers need to digest and endorse a new technology – new types of antennas, receiver chips, software, etc. This is not easy. Some of the first few DVB-H phones were bulky, use antennae that were too long (making them unacceptable for most users), and have a reception sensitivity that was not that great.

The above diagram is from a Vodafone presentation ( Mobile TV from pure Broadcast to Interactivity, 19th Oct 2006 ). It shows how Mobile TV technologies will coexist with MBMS and the traditional unicast services

Friday, 18 May 2007

The rise of Mobile TV (18/05/07)

Have been slightly busy reccently working towards my new training on MBMS. While searching for some statistics i came accross this interesting report:

According to Infonetics research report titled, “Mobile Video Devices, Services and Subscribers” published in May 2007:
  • The number of worldwide mobile subscribers has increased by 300% between 2005 and 2006.
  • There will be 46 million Mobile Video subscribers by 2010
  • Asia Pacific will be the regional stronghold of mobile video subscribers through at least 2010, with 57 per cent of the world total in 2006, followed by EMEA at 31 per cent
  • The number of mobile video handsets sold worldwide nearly doubled from 2005 to 2006 (including video-capable handsets not necessarily tied to a specific mobile video service)
  • Mobile video service ARPU (average revenue per user) in all regions increases significantly from 2006 to 2010, tripling in Asia Pacific (from a low base) and more than doubling in CALA

It remains to be seen how users will usse the mobile TV once the novelty wears off.