TV DOESN’T COME STAN­DARD

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & technology -

AS IS OF­TEN THE CASE in the tele­coms and high tech­nol­ogy area, stan­dards have be­come an is­sue. Much of the suc­cess of the GSM fam­ily of cell­phone tech­nolo­gies in­clud­ing HSDPA is the rig­or­ous en­force­ment of stan­dards and the economies of scale that it brings.

Mo­bile television is an­other story: some 10 dif­fer­ent un­der­ly­ing tech­nolo­gies that can de­liver con­tent ei­ther via cel­lu­lar net­works or ter­res­trial or satel­lite broad­cast­ing in­fra­struc­ture have been or are be­ing de­vel­oped to de­liver mo­bile television and mul­ti­me­dia con­tent. DVH-H or Dig­i­tal Video Broad­cast – Hand­held is most pop­u­lar in Europe and has also been cho­sen by MTN and Vo­da­com in South Africa. Other ap­proaches, such as TDtv over cell net­works, have emerged and are be­ing tri­alled by 3G op­er­a­tors in the UK. An­other cell net­work stan­dard, first demon­strated by Eric­s­son at 3GSM, is MBMS. It en­ables spec­trum ef­fi­cient sig­nal dis­tri­bu­tion, called mul­ti­cas­t­ing, and will start com­mer­cial roll-out in 2008. The satel­lite camp has also found back­ers, with the US’s Qual­comm part­ner­ing with Sky television to im­ple­ment a dif­fer­ent stan­dard called Me­di­aFlo. To top it all the Chi­nese are push­ing a pro­pri­etary broad­cast sys­tem called STiMi.

The im­pact of this frag­men­ta­tion is that hand­set and net­work equip­ment prices are be­ing driven up and that takeup may not be as rapid as the in­dus­try is hop­ing.

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