TDtv joins the mobile TV tech race

14 Feb 2006

With mobile TV already pegged as one of the hot topics for 2006, the standards battle between various mobile broadcast TV technologies saw another contender added to the fight card last month - and, oddly enough, it's already been standardized by the 3GPP.

IPWireless launched TDtv, a new solution for mobile TV that essentially combines UMTS TD-CDMA with the 3GPP's Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Standard (MBMS) under Release 6 that defines broadcast TV over W-CDMA networks. The result: 3G operators can launch broadcast TV for mobile terminals using their existing 3G networks and unpaired TDD spectrum at 1900 MHz and 2010 MHz.

TDtv comes at a time when wireless vendors are scrambling to promote various mobile TV technologies such as DVB-H, satellite and terrestrial DMB and MediaFLO. Each has a significant amount of support, but all come saddled with several disadvantages - the chief ones being the need for new spectrum and the cost involved in building a completely new network. The latter could be offset by partnering with local broadcasters, but even that raises potential customer ownership issues, according to analyst firm Sound Partners.

TDtv ostensibly has none of these issues. That said, it also has no handsets, though IPWireless marketing VP Jon Hambidge told Wireless Asia that IPWireless is in talks with OEMs. However, a few TDtv trials are already slated for Japan and Europe during the first half of this year.

What TDtv will mean for rival technologies is unclear for the moment. It will arguably mean little to Qualcomm and its MediaFLO plan. W-CDMA operators have known about MBMS, but 'many didn't expect it to be finalized this soon, and pursued DVB-H as a more immediate alternative,' Hambidge says.

However, vendors that have championed DVB-H seem prepared to stick to the view that operators will choose technologies according to their service needs and won't necessarily stick to one.

Markku Ellil‾ Nokia's Asia-Pacific director of radio networks product management, points out that cellcos have three basic choices for mobile video services: broadcast, on-demand downloads and content synchronization - all of which can be supported by cellular networks, he says.

'Their performance and the cost-efficiency of delivery will further be boosted by technologies like HSDPA and MBMS,' Ellil‾says.

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