Making MobTV Work

I’ve decided to try my hand at coining a new phrase: mobTV. I figure if mobile blogging can become "moblogging", then mobile television can become "mobTV." Besides, as I’m learning more about it and writing more about it I’m going to need a more efficient way to refer to it if I want to keep up, given the way its spreading and the number of terms I have to learn. 

Since my last post on the mobTV taking off in Korea, it looks like mobTV is coming to China next, if Radioscope has its way.  And on a pretty cool looking phone, if you ask me.

Samsung MobTV PhoneRadioscape has won contracts to supply five more Digital Multimedia Broadcast (DMB) and Enhanced Packet Mode (EPM) transmission systems for mobile TV operators in China, bringing the total to nine in the past few months.

 The company says the contracts are the fruits of at least two years of courting Chinese authorities about its DAB-based mobile TV technology and helping them evaluate the most appropriate technologies for the service, and choosing between DMB, DVB-H and DMB-T.

From there it gets interesting. Qualcomm announced last year that it was bringing mobTV to the states via a  technology called MediaFLO, which Verzion also adopted late last year. For the curious, Mobile Content News has video of MediaFLO in action. (Found via Engadget, and I believe that’s Shrek on the small screen.)  The question is, can it work? The experts aren’t  exactly in agreement. Depending on who you ask, MediaFLO and another technology called DVB-H are doomed because EV-DO already gets the job done and new networks are too expensive to build and support, or DVB-H will be the de facto standard once spectrum allocation problems are solved.

Got all that? Good, because I’m about to add some French to the mix. Alcatel just announced that it’s overcome the spectrum allocation issue by using a satellite frequency.

With the help of satellites, Alcatel aims to overcome a key hurdle in rolling out broadcast television services over mobile phones: the lack of available spectrum. 

The French telecommunications-equipment manufacturer proposes using the widely available S-Band frequency reserved for satellites to transmit broadcast signals both terrestrially and via satellite to mobile phones based on the DVB-H (digital video broadcasting – handheld) standard, instead of the UHF band. 

… The Alcatel proposal calls for equipping base stations with S-Band repeaters and, in addition, using satellites capable of transmitting in the S-Band to deliver content to 3G (third-generation) phones enabled with DVB-H technology in three different ways: base-station streaming, base-station broadcasting and satellite broadcasting.

The article also does a good job of explaining the drawbacks of the three delivery systems. Streaming offers unlimited channels and great indoor coverage, but only for a limited number of users on a network. Broadcast matches it on indoor coverage, and supports unlimited users, but only 27 channels. Satellite matches them on channels and user support, but falls short on indoor coverage. Alcatel claims the answer is an "intelligent content-management system" that seamlessly chooses the right delivery system. 

Leave it to the French to come up with an elegant solution. I just hope it works well enough to eventually get picked up in the U.S. It would be great to catch up on Desperate Housewives reruns on the subway, and get all the way up the street to my office without losing the signal.