Mobile TV is big at IBC – but IPTV is hot on its heels

15 September 2006

At IBC 2006 in Amsterdam the exhibition halls were buzzing with talk of mobile TV. Just under two years after the publication of the standard by ETSI, mobile TV based on DVB-H is now a commercial reality with over 140,000 subscribers having signed up in Italy since June. On the Nagravision stand visitors were able to experience the service live on handsets from LG and Samsung. A second commercial DVB-H service was officially launched last Saturday in Italy by TIM and Mediaset. Attention is now turning to other markets where launches are expected in the coming 12 months: Finland, USA, Germany, Spain, Russia, France, and, following an annoucement during IBC, Vietnam.
The DVB-IPDC specifications, finalised over the last year, were implemented in a number of DVB-H platforms that were on air at the event. The DVB Project Office, with support from SIDSA and National Grid Wireless, ensured that an unencrypted signal including an IPDC-compliant ESG was available to all exhibitors. Broadcasting from the Tlc tower close to the RAI Exhibition Centre, the 1kW e.r.p. signal was found to be reaching as far as Amsterdam city centre. Throughout the exhibition halls visitors a wide range of DVB-H receiver implementations were capable of receiving and decoding the transmissions. (The Guide to DVB-H @ IBC 2006 is still available for download.)

Another significant announcement at IBC saw the world’s two leading mobile phone vendors, Nokia and Motorola, commit themselves to working together to support the implementation of the DVB-IPDC specifications. Rob Bero, Director of Broadcast Technologies, Motorola said,  “as a vocal leader in open standards, including DVB-H, we’re pleased to be working with Nokia to deliver interoperable handset and network solutions that will help enable operators to offer the ultimate mobile TV experience for consumers.””Commercial mobile TV services are on the verge of launching in several markets across the world. In order for mobile TV to be a true success, we need interoperable mobile devices and systems which deliver the best experience for consumers and enable enjoyable, live broadcast TV when and where it suits them, redefining prime times and television program content. Nokia is happy to see that open DVB-H technology has and will have widespread support across the industry players, including Motorola and Nokia, in bringing mobile TV to market,” says Harri Männistö, Director, Multimedia Experiences, Nokia.

Interest in IPTV was at an all-time high at IBC this year. With several commercial deployments now live around the world, all of the major broadcast technology providers are offering products in this area. The industry recognises a real need for standardisation in IPTV and DVB’s work in this regard was showcased on the DVB Pavilion with a live end-to-end demonstration from Thomson. With work proceeding quickly, it’s likely that next year’s IBC will see technology providers converging around an agreed set of standards for IPTV, with DVB making a valuable contribution.