NDS To Protect Content On Mobile TV And DAB With Frontier Silicon

NDS To Protect Content On Mobile TV And DAB With Frontier SiliconSet Top Box (STB) and PVR company NDS have today announced that they have reached an agreement with Frontier Silicon, a fabless manufacturer of digital media semiconductors based in the UK, to work together on technology to protect digital TV and DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) content on mobile devices.

Frontier Silicon are already well known for pioneering in next gen digital chippery with their DAB chips; the “World’s First” DMB and DVB-H mobile Digital TV chip – in their words; they’ve also innovated in DAB with the introduction of DABplus, a DAB radio with EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) built-in.

The deal sees NDS have their mVideoGuard DRM technology built-in to Frontier’s T-DMB, DVB-H and DAB receiving chips. Interestingly it also sees Frontier Silicon moving into producing kit for the head-end (where it’s broadcast from) – to ensure mVideoGuard is in place from end-to-end.

NDS To Protect Content On Mobile TV And DAB With Frontier SiliconMany readers, especially the non-UK massive, may be thinking ‘So what? Who and who have signed a deal?’ Well the significance of NDS moving this way is that it may signal where Sky is moving. Sky, as I’m sure you know, is the satellite TV company who own the UK in satellite delivered TV, and who’s parent company News International now owns US satellite giant DirecTV.

For a long time Sky and NDS have been developing content protection schemes. They feel this is vital before they let their subscribers move their TV shows from STBs to other devices – including mobile devices.

Despite working on conditional access for mobile TV for a number of months (with NDS), this is the first time that Frontier have built DRM in to their chips, and it’s also thought that this is the first deal that NDS have done putting DRM in system apart from their own.

Is this a move to have NDS as an established provider of DRM? Well it having Sky as a reference client certainly isn’t a bad move.

Frontier Silicon

DVB-H Digital Mobile TV Pilot For Spain

DVB-H Digital Mobile TV Pilot For SpainAbertis Telecom, Nokia and Telefonica Moviles Espana have emerged smiling from a big converging huddle with news of a mobile TV pilot using Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H) technology.

The project, backed by major regional and local Spanish channels, is said to be the first of its kind to take place in the country and will serve up a feast of converged mobile communications and TV broadcasting technologies.

Scheduled to take place in Madrid and Barcelona from September 2005 to February 2006, the pilot will also coincide with the closing ceremony of the GSM World Congress 2006 in Barcelona.

The trial will let 500 lucky users from Madrid and Barcelona gorge themselves on high quality broadcast TV content from Antena 3, Sogecable, Telecinco, Telemadrid, TVE and TV3 on Nokia 7710 smartphones.

DVB-H Digital Mobile TV Pilot For SpainThese will be equipped with a “special accessory” to receive the mobile TV broadcasts.

With the units sporting a wide (640 x 320 pixels) colour touch-screen and a built in stereo music player, users will also be able to take part in programme-related interactive services while viewing TV.

White coated boffins have already started technical trials, with the consumer pilot designed to allow the three companies to test the feasibility of the DVB-H technology and the new mobile TV services.

The trial will also allow interested parties to assess new business opportunities, tweak the user experience (ooo-er!) and measure public interest in mobile TV services.

DVB-H Digital Mobile TV Pilot For SpainOutdoor and indoor signal and broadcast quality will also be tested to help fine tune the best technical parameters for the viability of DVB-H based services.

The deal gives Telefonica Moviles responsibility for customer support, invoicing and interactive services, Abertis Telecom will be charged with broadcasting the programmes in Madrid and Barcelona – and taking care of technical issues – while Nokia will provide the Mobile TV solution and smartphones for the pilot.

Telefónica Móviles España
Abertis Telecom

Frontier Announce “World’s First” DMB and DVB-H Mobile Digital TV chip

Frontier Announce World's First DMB and DVB-H Mobile Digital TV chip  Frontier Silicon have announced the “world’s first multi-standard, multi-band mobile digital TV chip set”.

The new device, called Kino 3, is a new multi-standard and multi-band MDTV chip set which supports both the Korean and European digital multimedia broadcast (DMB) as well as the DVB-H standard for mobile TV reception.

Kino3 will be world’s first thingamabob to combine a silicon tuner with broad tuning range and a baseband processor utilising software defined radio techniques to address multiple MDTV reception standards.

Frontier claims that the Kino 3 will be able to compete in terms of cost, size and power consumption with devices that just support a single standard.

Frontier Announce World's First DMB and DVB-H Mobile Digital TV chip  In a fug of industry-speak, Anthony Sethill, CEO of Frontier Silicon, told the Broadcast Asia Conference in Singapore, “We strongly believe that regulatory, spectrum allocation and installed infrastructure issues could considerably slow down the deployment of MDTV worldwide. With our experience in developing pioneering semiconductor solutions for digital broadcasting, we recognised this as a company early on and deployed resources to develop multi-standard ICs. Our aim is therefore to remove this barrier by quickly introducing a solution, and we are on course to introduce our Kino 3 solution in 2006”.

And here – as they say on shampoo adverts – is the science bit:

DMB is an extension of the Eureka 147 specification commonly referred to as DAB and used for digital radio broadcasts in much of Europe. DVB-H has been developed as an extension to the existing DVB-T standard which is widely used across Europe for digital TV broadcasts. Both DMB and DVB-H have been developed to provide the robust and high bandwidth data channels required to enable the reliable reception of digital video on handheld devices.

Frontier Announce World's First DMB and DVB-H Mobile Digital TV chipKorea is expected to see commercial MDTV services based on DMB rolling out during 2005, with the UK and Germany following in 2006.

Commercial services based on DVB-H will begin broadcasting in America during 2006 with parts of Europe adopting this standard during 2006 and 2007.

Fans of obscure spec sheets will have to wait until 2006 to discover the thrilling details of Frontier Silicon’s Kino 3 chip set, but we can inform you that it comprises of a state-of-the-art multi-standard baseband demodulator/decoder and multi-band (Band II, III, IV, V and L-band) RF tuner IC, and incorporates integrated microcontroller and memory. And possibly an onboard rear view dipstick.

Frontier Silicon

MHP: Examining Launch Strategies

MHP services in EuropeNatalie Mouyal of DigiTAG follows up on her previous piece on Wednesday that reviewed the current position of MHP services in Europe.

As MHP-based interactive services are launched throughout Europe, will they encourage the uptake of digital television services? Country case-studies demonstrate that the strategy adopted for the launch of interactive services does impact the roll-out in the market. Two different types of launch strategies can be used for the free-to-air DTT platform.

In a first strategy, national governments focus on the roll-out of digital terrestrial services using simple (zapper) set-top boxes that converts the digital signal for reception on an analogue television set. This strategy encourages the uptake of DTT services by promoting the purchase of a relatively inexpensive zapper set-top box in order for viewers to access an increase in the number of television programme services. Once the DTT services are accepted by the general population, broadcasters can launch interactive services in a second step. However, this strategy results in a large quantity of zapper boxes in viewer households that will need to be converted in order to access interactive services.

In a second strategy, interactive services are an integral part of the initial launch of DTT services and viewers are educated to understand that television can provide a wide range of new services. DTT is no longer a simple translation of a previously existing television services but rather a new television experience. However, this strategy requires a greater financial investment given the higher cost of an MHP-enabled set-top box when compared with zapper set-top box.

MHP services in EuropeGenerally, countries have tended mix the two strategies. Viewers have benefited from both an increase in the number of television service programmes available, as well as interactive television services. Yet, this combination has not always allowed for an impressive take-off of MHP based interactive services. In the case of Finland, consumers could choose between a zapper set-top box that allows them to access more television service programmes or an MHP-enabled set-top box that allows them to access both the increased number of television services programmes as well as the interactive services. However, MHP-enabled set-top boxes make up only 5% of all set-top boxes currently purchased.

So as to encourage viewers to buy MHP-enabled set-top boxes, the Italian government has provided households with a subsidy towards the purchase of their interactive set-top boxes. While this subsidy can be used for any open platform interactive boxes, such as those used to receive TV via fibre optic broadband services, it has encouraged the purchase of MHP-enabled set-top boxes. It is estimated that 1.5 million MHP-enabled set-top boxes have already been purchased since February 2004. In addition, the decrease in subsidy from €150 (~US$190 ~£102) in 2004 to €70 (~US$95 ~£51) in 2005 reflects the drop in price for MHP-enabled set-top boxes following their massive uptake.

The consumption of MHP-enabled set-top boxes has kick started the economies of scale for their manufacture. The marginal cost difference for an MHP-enabled set-top box and a zapper set-top box is now much reduced. By adopting this strategy, the Italian government has successfully prevented its market from being flooded with simple zapper set-top boxes.

MHP services in EuropeIt has been assumed that many consumers will invariably prefer the cheaper zapper set-top box to a more expensive MHP-enabled set-top box. However, this reasoning disregards the type of interactive services offered. For example, should viewers find interactive services compelling and easy to use, they may be willing to spend the extra money necessary for an interactive set-top box. Thus, it would seem that consumer education is key to the successful roll-out of interactive services.

Much will depend on the role and importance attributed to interactive services. Should governments wish to promote t-government services, it is necessary to encourage households to purchase an interactive set-top box. Broadcasters may use interactive services as a means to increase their revenue and as a result invest funds in the development of appealing content. The priorities of content developers, broadcasters and governments will impact the successful roll-out of interactive services and likely lead to variations between markets.

Natalie Mouyal, works for Digitag

Oxford DVB-H Trial: Content Partners Announced

O2 And NTL Announce Oxford Mobile TV TrialNTL Broadcast and O2 have revealed the first batch of channels to be part of their forthcoming mobile TV trial in the Oxford area, announcing an initial 16 channels including Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, Sky Sports News and Sky Travel.

The six-month trial will roll out to 350 O2 customers using the new trialled in Finland.

Dave Williams, O2’s chief technology officer, saw the mic and clicked into action: “We believe that mobile broadcast TV has the potential to sit alongside our existing customer services based on GPRS (2.5G) and 3G mobile data networks. Mobile broadcast TV aims to be a cost effective method for transmitting high quality content from one source to multiple customers whereas 3G is ideal for providing bespoke content to users.”

Terry Howard, head of media business development at NTL Broadcast, also fancied a bit of quote action: “This trial will give a useful insight into how the new technology performs, and we intend to use that information to inform the broadcasters, mobile operators and Ofcom about the consumer appeal of the service. We look forward to welcoming other channel providers and terrestrial broadcasters on board for the trial.”

O2 And NTL Announce Oxford Mobile TV TrialTo support the trial, NTL Broadcast is building a new broadcast network of eight DVB-H transmitters to cover 120 square km around Oxford that will enable the lucky participants to receive digital television on the move. To enable a commercial service to be launched in the UK, Ofcom will need to license spectrum and O2 is already lobbying the UK regulator to bring forward plans to distribute radio frequencies for mobile TV services.

O2 will soon begin the process of recruiting triallists from the Oxford catchment area: but young ‘uns, silver surfers, crumblies and grannies need not apply: O2 is restricting insisting that participants be between 18 and 45 years of age. The ageists!


MHP Services In Europe: Current Position Reviewed

MHP services in EuropeAcross Europe, interactive services using the DVB Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) standard have been launched on cable, satellite and terrestrial platforms. While not formally mandated by the European Commission, MHP has been embraced as an open and interoperable standard that can be actively encouraged and promoted. Already, several countries have launched MHP-based interactive services on the terrestrial platform.

Finland pioneered MHP-based interactive services on the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform when it launched services in August 2001. Services currently include digital teletext, banking and game applications, advertising sites and a seven-day electronic programme guide (EPG). A mobile telephone assures the return channel. Currently, a regional MHP portal is available in the city of Tampere to provide local information and a similar portal will soon be launched in Helsinki. The government has actively supported the development of MHP-based services through its project ArviD.

Public service broadcasters have been very active in establishing the Nordic Migration Plan to ensure the introduction of MHP-based interactive services. The launch of DTT services in Denmark and Norway will likely include interactive services. Denmark is expected to launch its DTT services in July 2005 while Norway may launch its services in 2006.

In Sweden, interactive services were initially implemented using the proprietary system, OpenTV. However, the migration towards MHP-based services is underway and the public broadcaster SVT launched an MHP based digital teletext service in March 2004.

Germany has been a continued supporter of the roll-out of MHP-based interactive television services, especially on the satellite platform. MHP data services have been launched on the terrestrial television platform.

MHP services in EuropeIn Austria, a DTT trial with MHP-based interactive services provided 150 households in Graz with access to an interactive television service called !TV4 using the telephone connection for the return channel. Using their television remote control, viewers could retrieve information services and vote. Given the success of the trial, it is likely that MHP-based interactive services will be launched alongside DTT services.

In Hungary, MHP-based interactive services are available in the DTT trials conducted by Antenna Hungaria. The services are information based and include digital teletext and an EPG.

In February 2002, the Ministry of Science and Technology in Spain sponsored an agreement for the promotion and implementation of interactive services based on the MHP standard signed by leading manufacturers and broadcasters. Currently MHP services are available in Catalunya, Madrid and the Basque region and are expected to be launched in Galicia. In Catalunya, the Miromercats pilot supplied 100 homes with advanced MHP applications and provided a return channel via the telephone line.

But the turning point for MHP has been in Italy where interactive content has been a cornerstone of the launch of DTT services. Broadcasters have provided a wide range of MHP-based interactive services such as digital teletext, news information, weather forecasts, audience polling and an EPG. Furthermore, the government seeks to develop “t-government” services in an aim to help bridge the digital divide. Government subsidies are available to encourage households to purchase interactive set-top boxes.

MHP services in EuropeOf course MHP is not the only interactive television service system in the market. Proprietary systems such as MediaHighway and OpenTV have been installed in a large number of set-top boxes, often for cable and satellite platforms. In the United Kingdom, the MHEG standard is widely used on the terrestrial platform. As a result of the various products and services in the market, the DVB Project has been working on the development of the Portable Content Format (PCF) to deliver a wide range of interactive television services to multiple platforms with a minimum of re-authoring. It has significant interest for operators who wish to migrate towards MHP by allowing them to manage simultaneously a mixed population of devices.

We’ll be carrying a follow up piece by Natalie on Friday, about launching MHP services. Natalie works for Digitag
Photo credits: Alticast, Uni-Weimer, MHP.org, MIT Xperts

Crown Castle DVB-H Delivery With Samsung

Crown Castle DVB-H Delivery With SamsungCrown Castle International announced today that it has formed a new subsidiary, Crown Castle Mobile Media, tasked with delivering live mobile television services to handheld devices including cell phones.

Crown Castle Mobile Media intends to build and operate a dedicated digital network for broadcasting digital television content to PDAs, cell phones and other suitable devices.

The technology being used, Digital Video Broadcasting- Handheld (DVB-H), is currently expected to become the global standard for mobile television and has been formally adopted by both the DVB Organization and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Crown Castle and Nokia recently completed successful demonstration trials of this open-standard technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Crown Castle Mobile Media expecting to roll out a commercial deployment of this service in selected major US markets during 2005.

“Crown Castle owns over 10,000 wireless towers and holds a nationwide spectrum license,” commented John P. Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Crown Castle. “These valuable assets, combined with our proven expertise in digital broadcasting in the UK, provide a unique opportunity to take a leading position in the emerging mobile television market. We look forward to partnering with content providers and wireless services providers to introduce commercial services.”

Richard Sharp, vice president of Nokia’s Rich Media business unit added, “Nokia and Crown Castle broadcast mobile television for the first time in the US during live market trials that began in Pittsburgh last October and are working together to bring mobile television and radio to the hands of wireless users across the United States.

Crown Castle DVB-H Delivery With SamsungCrown Castle’s support of DVB-H is further evidence that DVB-H is a robust, open standard that will not only bring high- quality television and radio to the market, but will ensure a vibrant marketplace for infrastructure equipment, innovative devices, and compelling services.”

Earlier this week, Crown Castle Mobile Media also announced that it will work together with Samsung Electronics to accelerate the provision of digital television services to handset devices in the US market.

Samsung will be the world’s first wireless phone manufacturer to launch DVB-H handsets supporting both WCDMA/EVDO and GSM/GPRS networks, providing entertainment-hungry consumers with quality, built-in television screens receiving real DVB-H streaming television and Radio channels.

Crown Castle Mobile Media enjoys an unencumbered nationwide US spectrum license and anticipates building a DVB-H network across the US to transmit high-quality, multi-channel live and streaming digital television for reception on suitably-equipped cell phones.

Samsung is developing premium handsets to work on the Crown Castle Mobile Media network, and have already showcased wireless phones with 2″ QVGA screens supporting 226k colors, up to 30 frames per second, and 300 kbit/s per channel speeds.

The phones have MPE-FEC error correction implemented and use the latest H.264 and AAC+ video/audio decoding technologies.

“Samsung is recognized as a global leader bringing to market multimedia technologies that enhance the way consumers are able to use and interact with their wireless phones,” said Dale Sohn, VP of Samsung’s Overseas Investment Group.

“We understand the value of working with companies like Crown Castle Mobile Media to develop cutting-edge solutions like DVB-H.”

Mr. Michael Schueppert, President of Crown Castle Mobile Media, was suitably chuffed, “We are very excited to have a world-class leader in multimedia mobile phones like Samsung to assist in driving these new services. This collaboration will put Samsung in a position to become a key handset supplier to Crown Castle Mobile Media’s anticipated Pittsburgh DVB-H customer trial.”

Crown Castle

Siemens offers TV on mobiles and Voice over WiFi at CeBit

Siemens offers TV for mobilesSiemens are planning to make a big splash at the upcoming CeBit in Hannover, Germany.

Along with Skype-capable M34 USB that they’ve already released, they’re planning to go the whole hog and show a Voice over WiFi handset (Gigaset S35 WLAN). On the telephone-plus-TV front they’ve announced a new concept handset, offering DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast for Handheld Devices) compatibility, which – in theory – will let users pick up around half a dozen digital TV and about 30 digital radio channels.

The ‘DVB-H Concept’ can pick up digital TV signals beamed across 3G networks using a modified version of the existing DVB-T terrestrial digital TV. Adapted for battery-powered terminals, the DVB-H broadcasts in bursts, allowing the receiver to power-down whenever possible, and thus boosting battery life.

DVB-H trials are underway in the UK, US, Germany and Finland, and if all goes to plan, UK residents will be able to wander about the streets watching Coronation Street on their phones in about a year. Not surprisingly, Digital TV phones are already huge in Japan and Korea.

Details are still a bit sketchy, but it will definitely feature a VGA screen and stereo sound. If they can also wedge a hard disk into the phone for recording programmes (and for storing your video clips transferred from PCs) this could be next year’s must-have technology.

The omens are good: the lucky citizens of Japan and Korea are already enjoying TV mobiles and it’s not hard to imagine sleep-deprived Brits shelling out hard cash to tune into every mumbled utterance of popular shows like Big Brother.

This marks another strange twist in the Siemens story. Not long ago, strong rumours were circulating around the net that they were looking to flog off their mobile phones division. This announcement – along with two other new phones (the Gigaset S35 WLAN, a Voice over WiFi and the M75, a chunky military style handset) suggests that no one’s told their tech bods yet.

Siemens (UK)
Siemens (USA)

Nokia: Crown Castle joins to pilot DVB-H technology

Yet another chapter is unfolding in the battle to bring the TV screen and its contents to the mobile masses. And it’s all being made possible with global digital technology, as the first US pilot of DVB-H takes place. DVB-H is a standard specified by the Digital Video Broadcasting Organization specifically for the transmission of TV-like content and data to handheld devices, such as mobile phones. Nokia and Crown Castle have joined ranks to pilot DVB-H technology in the United States. Crown Castle already offers significant wireless communications coverage to 68 of the top 100 United States markets, and owns, operates and manages over 10,600 wireless communication sites in the U.S. The whole point of the exercise is to bring TV-like services to mobile devices. The pilot commenced in October, and aims to prove and test the feasibility of DVB-H technology and related service systems in this market space. The next step will be to expand the pilot to test consumer experiences and acceptance of a mobile phone TV service. Spokespeople from Nokia and Crown Castle aired their views in yesterday’s press release. “We believe this may be an important new technology for our company and our industry. We look forward to partnering with content providers and wireless service providers to introduce commercial services utilising the nation-wide spectrum that we acquired in 2003 and our extensive portfolio of US towers”, said Michael Schueppert, Senior Vice President – Business Development for Crown Castle. On the Nokia side, Seppo Sutela, Director, Rich Media, Nokia said, “Piloting with Crown Castle is a major milestone for Nokia. It will expand mobile phone TV services to United States, giving DVB-H standard a truly global reach. Mobile phone TV, based on DVB-H, will provide new attractive consumer services as well as business opportunities for all parties in the business system. Our pilot with Crown Castle is an important step towards that.” www.nokia.com