Spectrum a key issue for mobile TV

27 Sep 2006

The availability of suitable spectrum has been identified by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) as one of the biggest issues facing the mobile TV industry.

In its latest quarterly report the regulator said that key decisions regarding spectrum allocation need to be made by regulators to ensure the widespread availability and take-up of these services.

It said it is monitoring developments in other countries and the progress of trials of mobile applications both here and abroad before committing to any specific regulatory regime.

It plans to publish a briefing document on TV over mobile before the end of this year.

Earlier this week 3G operator 3 said that it has been granted a licence to trial digital video broadcasting over handheld (DVB-H) in Ireland. Previously it emerged that O2 has been granted a licence to trial DVB-H in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

In June this year Sky and Vodafone teamed up to offer the first mobile TV service in Ireland, called Sky Mobile TV. The service, which only works in areas where 3G is available, comes with a combination of different Sky channels such as MTV, Sky One and the Discovery Channel.

Across the world mobile TV trials are being carried out by various operators using a variety of competing standards. These delivery platforms include DVB-H as well as terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting (T-DMB) and satellite digital multimedia broadcasting (S-DMB).

There are at present T-DMB deployments in Korea and 3 Italia and TIM TV have launched DVB-H services in Italy.

DVB-H technology is based on the existing digital terrestrial television system DVB-T but is optimised for battery handheld devices.

The DVB-H method would mean that the video clip or programme is transmitted over the network once to many users at the same time — point to multipoint.

Handsets that would be used to receive DVB-H broadcasts are likely to be TV-enabled mobile phones from manufacturers like Nokia and Samsung.

Trials by operators such as O2 in the UK have found that mobile TV is most likely to be used in short bursts, for example when waiting for an appointment, while commuting or as a user’s personal TV in the home. In terms of content, sports content, news and entertainment have been popular in trials to date.

By John Kennedy