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China mobile TV spec resembles European spec

Posted: 15 Dec 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:handsets  mobile TVs  DVB-SH  CMMB  Alcatel 

China's new broadcast mobile TV spec bears a striking resemblance to a European satellite spec called DVB-SH, short for digital video broadcast from satellite for handhelds. That may help chip and infrastructure providers leverage their R&D investments, but it could also raise some sticky IP issues.

"The basics are very, very close to what we have been working on, so we believe the technology we are developing for Europe can be quite easily adapted to the Chinese market," said Olivier Coste, president of Alcatel/Lucent's Mobile Broadcast unit.

In October, a government ministry rolled out a spec called China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting (CMMB) based on homegrown technology known as Satellite and Terrestrial Interactive Multi-service Infrastructure or STiMi. The service operates in the 2.6GHz frequency, using 25MHz of bandwidth to offer 25 video and 30 radio channels; plus some data channels.

Some officials have hinted that the standard would be mandatory, effectively blocking the potential nationwide deployment of Europe's DVB-Handheld, Qualcomm's Media-FLO and South Korea's Terrestrial-DMB.

Targeting the S-band, Europe's DVB-SH, is nearing the end of its standardisation process. Alcatel demoed the system in the UK last month, and work on the spec should wrap up by the end of this month. It enables direct-to-mobile transmission, using the S-band, and boosts indoor coverage via terrestrial repeaters. Its IP-based transmissions use the 2.2GHz frequency and an OFDM waveform with an improved link budget that employs codes, according to the UMTS Forum.

"I was in Beijing last month and was struck by how similar (CMMB) is to DVB-SH," said Bosco Fernandes, chair of the Mobile TV Group for the UMTS Forum. "But I still don't think it will be easy to deploy," he said.

Fernandes said it is more likely that the Chinese will use cellular-based unicast or multicast services to fulfil a promise to deliver mobile video at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Sometime after that, a broadcast technology would be layered onto those cellular video services to form a hybrid network for multimedia.

Some industry watchers noted there may be IP issues involved with CMMB because of its similarity to DVB-SH, but it would be difficult — legally and politically—for foreign companies to press hard for compensation in China.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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