The European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI) (basically the inventor of the GSM standard) has approved the DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) standards for the delivery of multimedia content and services on the move, paving the way for a new era in broadcasting and telecommunications.
As the strong synergies between mobile technologies (best suited for one-to-one applications) and broadcast technologies (best suited for one-to-many applications) become increasingly clear, the telecom and broadcasting industries are aligning their interests to take full advantage of the wealth of opportunities opened up by this new marriage.
DMB, a multimedia application based on exactly this principle, has its roots in DAB, the technology that is taking radio digital around the world and that was specifically developed for mobile reception. DMB is designed to broadcast television and video to mobile handsets, in parallel with existing DAB services, both audio and data, and can be easily integrated wherever a DAB infrastructure already exists. A DAB network is already available to 80% of Europe and there are more than 800 DAB services reaching 475 million people in 40 countries around the world.
The DMB standard is one of the applications made possible by utilizing DAB as a transport medium for AV (audio and video) and multimedia streaming. WorldDAB is also working towards developing further standards based on this DAB capability via IP-based solutions.
DAB has evolved from being a digital replacement of analogue radio to a fully-fledged multi-service, multimedia broadcast system incorporating recent audio and video coding technologies. DAB networks will be able to serve any kind of receiver in any reception environment with any type of distributive content and service.
Key manufacturers have already developed mature devices suited to receive new audio and advanced services by using the DAB frequency resources already in place. LG Electronics, Samsung and Perstel are the first manufacturers to launch new DMB enabled devices, including mobile phones, some of which are expected to be commercially available later this year. Companies such as Texas Instruments, Frontier Silicon, Panasonic, RadioScape and Bosch are offering baseband processors or modules that can be used for DMB reception, while solutions providers Factum, Harris and RadioScape are already providing DMB broadcast technology.
Broadcasters in Germany, Spain, France, Norway, Italy, The Netherlands, UK, China and many others have conducted or are preparing to conduct DMB trials and tests to enable the integration of audio, data and video services on existing DAB networks. In South Korea, 6 licenses have been awarded to content providers to begin regular commercial audio, video and data services by the end of 2005. In March of this year, BLM, the Bavarian Media Authority, launched a pilot project called Digital Advanced Broadcasting that will aim to use DMB to broadcast radio and video content, as well as new data services to new portable receivers. The pilot will take place in Regensburg and is expected to last for two years with the aim to work towards comprehensive coverage of FIFA World Cup 2006 via mobile entertainment devices.
Later on this year, DMB will feature prominently at key international exhibition shows such as IFA and IBC, where delegates will be able to see the new technology demonstrated on the WorldDAB stands as well as on the stands of several of the members of the international Forum.
WorldDAB Forum's President, Annika Nyberg, says: "ETSI's approval of the DMB standard is an important step forward in the anticipation of a strong mobile technology in Europe and worldwide. Manufacturers, chip designers and solutions providers are already poised to bring video, along with DAB audio and data services, to consumers using DMB enabled devices. WorldDAB expects DAB's DMB application to take a significant place in the emerging world of digital broadcast entertainment."
The approved DMB standards (TS 102 427 and TS 102 428 ) are now available for free download on the ESTI website.
Okay, I have to admit I'm lost now. First it was video over UMTS (which was clear to fail since UMTS isn't designed for broadcasting multimedia), than it was DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld) and now it is DMB which is based on DAB. Everything clear? Ok, the future will prove the right technology anyway but how hard can we make it for a consumer?
Cheers ~ Arne