AMSTERDAM, Netherlands Even for those participating in the high-stakes guessing game over China's mobile TV standard, a plethora of specs currently proposed in China seems like a mystery.
Speaking at the International Broadcast Conference here on Friday (Sept. 7), Du Baichuan, former CTO of China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft), sought to clarify the situation. "China will have two mobile TV standards by the end of this year: CMMB and TDBM," Du declared.
CMMB (China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting) is based on a hybrid satellite and terrestrial network, originally developed by China's Academy of Broadcast Science and Sarft. TDMB is a mobile TV standard using China's home-grown 3G mobile telecommunication standard, TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access). TDBM was developed by Datong Telecom, a research body of China's Ministry of Information and Industry (MII).
Du downplayed other competing proposals. DMMB (Digital Mobile Multimedia Broadcast), drafted by Tsinghua University to leverage China's terrestrial digital TV standard, has been "postponed because of the delays in terrestrial digital TV installations," said Du. "It's behind the schedule."
Complicating DMMB implementation further is that "they are based on two different physical layers: one on DMMB-W (wideband) and another on DMMB-N (narrowband)," said Du. "The two are not compatible."
Du also dismissed T-MMB (Terrestrial-Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting) as "only a technical solution." Describing the spec as "an improved system based on Europe's Digital Audio Broadcast standard," Du added: "If it's based on DAB, why not use DAB or DMB? Why use T-MMB?"
Another proposal called CDMB (China Digital Multimedia Broadcasting), promoted by the China Association for Standardization, has also emerged. "It's just a proposal," Du said.
He said CMMB is well on its way to commercialization. Three-point, single frequency network testing was carried out in January in Beijing. It will be using home-grown chips available from Innofidei, a small Chinese chip vendor. "The Innofidei chip already works and it's proven to offer four-hour-long continuous TV viewing," Du said. Adding to the momentum is that DiBcom and Siano, two leading mobile TV chip companies, will have CMMB silicon ready by the end of this year, according to Du.
Pre-commercial mobile TV services based on CMMB will roll out in six Chinese cities by the end of this year. As China launches two satellites next spring, the goal is to start CMMB-based mobile TV services in 60 cities before the Beijing Olympics next year, Du said.