Digital TV is expanding from home to everywherethe street, cars, buses, trains, restaurants, the beachas the TV world is changing from a stationary, satellite or tethered paradigm and a typical group viewing experience to include a more personal viewing experience on portable wireless devices.
Although mobile entertainment is still in its infancy, mobile devices have rapidly evolved from strictly communications devices into multimedia-centric infotainment devices with the integration of digital cameras, MP3 players, PDA functionality, GPS services, gaming and video capabilities.
Similarly, other mass market devices, such as Apple's iPod, are changing the habits of millions of consumers when outside of the home, and personal video and television capabilities are as close as ever to full realization.
A fragmented and diversified mobile TV market
Television, the most basic and widely used multimedia application ever, is going through a dramatic change. New standards and technologies, led by a coalition of leading cellular operators, broadcasters, mobile phone makers, software and content providers, have set the stage for terrestrial digital television services optimized to mobile usage.
However, global segmentation of the new standards and the variety of regulated spectrum bands considered in different geographies impose a fragmented market of broadcast Mobile Digital Television (MDTV).
DVB-H, DVB-T, DAB, T-DMB, DAB-IP, ISDB-T, Media FLO and DMB-T/H are to be deployed over multiple spectrum bandsVHF, UHF and at least two slices of "L" band. In addition to these terrestrial technologies, some satellite-based technologies are also planned, some already deployed.
For the sake of the industry, it would have been simpler if there were one mobile TV standard over one spectrum band, but the reality is that there are a number of these standards throughout the world.
In some cases, as in Germany and China, there is even more than one standard per country. Such a market introduces a big challenge for technology vendors and component providers, and is calling for a multi-standard, multi-band solution while maintaining small size, low cost, low power, high mobility performance and high level of integration.
Flexibility for operators
In a traditional cellular communications market, operators are in charge of the entire operation from A to Zthe network, the infrastructure and everything required for delivering services to the consumer.
The MDTV market operates differently. Cellular operators won't install the networks and infrastructure but will instead follow a TV service provider model, where companies such as Modeo and Mediaset will install the mobile TV network, including infrastructure, towers and content aggregation. Operators will then buy the service from the TV service provider to bring it to the end user as a commercial service.
Because of the market structure, operators will have a presence but they still require some amount of flexibility. With the multi-standard reality, even though operators each have a preference for standards, they can have the flexibility to work with two or more different MDTV service providers to create competition and get a better deal.
This also presents less of a risk than if they were only using one standard.
Streamlined multi-standard design
Phone manufacturers want the ability to sell their phones in multiple countries or in countries where there is more than one MDTV standardrequiring a multi-standard phone supported by a multi-standard receiver chipset.
For phone manufacturers, the multi-standard approach to MDTV presents an opportunity to streamline hardware and software design while reducing the overall design cycle and R&D costs. With a multi-standard chip, manufacturers can invest in one platform which can then yield several commercial models at different standards.
A multi-standard chip also assists phone makers in managing inventory. If one model for one standard suddenly has less volume, the possible inventory overhead can be offset by using the same chip for other models supporting other standards where volumes may exceed the estimate.
The handset maker does not have to bet which standard will prevail. With a simple and single design, they can leverage volume to reduce price.