Are We Going to See a Shootout between DVB-H and DVB-T?

Once the Nokia N96 hits the shelf it will probably be one of the first DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast – Handheld) devices being shipped in large numbers. Not that DVB-H capable handsets haven’t sold for about two years now. However, DVB-H is only available in a few European countries such as Italy, and reception is not free. Maybe it is this fact coupled with licensing issues and access to the required spectrum that prevents mobile TV from taking off?

T-Mobile and Vodafone might think just that and have decided to launch DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcast – Terrestrial) capable handsets before the European football championship this year. The advantage: The DVB-T receiver in the mobile receives the non encrypted standard digital television signal for TVs. No subscription is required and there are no doubts concerning the programming, since users know it from their TV set at home.

Note that opening up the mobile platform to receive standard terrestrial programming is nothing new. In Japan, mobile TV seems to be quite popular, maybe just because among other things, there is also no subscription required to receive the program via the 1seq, the technology used there.

Critics say the DVB-T receiver chip is likely to consume more energy than the mobile optimized DVB-H chip. That’s probably true but the big question will be if it really matters…

One thought on “Are We Going to See a Shootout between DVB-H and DVB-T?”

  1. Brilliant observations as usual.

    DVB-H has yet to develop the long anticipated momentum due to added costs, power consumption and ‘chicken and egg’ need that comes with dedicated spectrum dependent devices and subscription services. As you point out, reception of DVB-T or other open broadcast is not burdened with that hurdle. It can compete on the basis of providing added benefit to packaged device/services subscribers, but the operator otherwise can’t develop additional revenue.

    If the device model becomes open access, then devices that receive DVB-T/DVB-T2 signals can potentially be side-loaded irrespective of the mobile network.

    It is interesting to note that DVB-T2 incorporates similar methods used in both WiMAXm/802.16m and 3G-LTE including high numbers of sub-channels, 64 QAM, and SIMO (no need for multiple path uplink for broadcast communications). Chip vendors are preparing integrated multi-mode chips. They say that this requires little additional chip real estate because FFT/IFFT, graphics encoding and other functions can be made common.

    Also helping to ease DVB-T into the market is that IPR pools have formed that seek very reasonable royalties for patent pool licensing.

    DVB development is among developing uses of OFDM, FEC, SIMO/MIMO, AAS, and other advanced methods that both further the field of development but also broaden out ownership of patents that make it more difficult for individual companies to dominate.

    And we see another instance in which modes of operation can be handled within the same chip/chip sets and software defined/configured radio device and system architectures that are based increasingly on similar combinations of technologies. While that does not make for common air interfaces, the industry is being driven toward ‘de facto’ commonality because the same equipment platforms and devices will be used. And, once again, the user who receives a video broadcast on a 3G, 3G-LTE or WiMAX mobile device will not likely care what technology, chips or agreements had to be developed to enable the service… primarily what and how easy it is to access the content.

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