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Germany paves way for DVB-H mobile TV

To be ready for 2008 soccer tournament

By John Blau
April 27, 2007 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - DUSSELDORF, GERMANY -- Germany has responded to a European Commission request to support a European-industry backed mobile TV standard ahead of a key soccer tournament in 2008.

The German network regulator, BNetzA, is taking bids from companies seeking frequencies to provide broadcast mobile TV service based on the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld) standard.

Under a plan announced Thursday, DVB-H service should be available in the capital cities of all 16 German states by 2008 and be extended to cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants beginning in 2009.

The announcement comes after a long tug-of-war in Germany, Europe's largest media market, over broadcast mobile TV standards.

Last year, state broadcasting authorities began issuing licenses for the rival DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting), largely because spectrum was available. But the country's mobile phone operators have demanded that spectrum be made available for DVB-H, a technology they support because of its much larger capacity -- up to 50 channels compared with DMB's five.

At the Cebit trade show in March, European Union Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding threatened that regulations would be imposed if member states continued to wrangle over a common standard for broadcast mobile TV service.

DMB and MediaFLO, a technology developed by Qualcomm Inc., are among the key competitors to DVB-H, which has already been approved by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

At Cebit, Reding referred to DVB-H as an "open standard" and a "European standard" and said that "Europe has a real chance with mobile TV just as we did with GSM." The Global Systems for Mobile Communications standard originated in Europe.

The commissioner said she would give member states until "this summer" to accept DVB-H, so that manufacturers and operators would have sufficient time to launch products and services ahead of the European Soccer Championship.

Within the coming weeks, companies participating in the Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum are expected to approve a standard aimed at ensuring the interoperability of DVB-H applications, according to Jouni Kamarainen, director at Nokia Corp.'s multimedia division.

Numerous vendors and mobile phone operators, including Nokia and Vodafone Group PLC, have thrown their support behind the Open Mobile Alliance Mobile Broadcast Services Enabler Suite in an effort to push the takeup of DVB-H services.

Three key applications covered by the standard are the electronic service and program guide, support for content and service protection based on the Smart Card Profile or the OMA DRM (digital rights management) system and interactive capability, according to Kamarainen.

The interactive feature allows users to watch a TV program broadcast to their phone and use the cellular network as the return channel to access more information about the program or use the program guide.

"With DVB-H, we've standardized the radio part and with OMA BCAST, we're taking an important step to ensure interoperability of DVB-H applications," Kamarainen said.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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