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RadioScape to launch DAB module for PDAs, phones

Posted: 25 Feb 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:radioscape? digital audio broadcast radio? dab radio? 3gsm congress? dab radio module?

RadioScape, a London-based software-defined Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) radio developer, will show off at 3GSM Congress in Cannes, France a new ultra-compact tri-band digital radio receiver module small enough to fit in PDAs.

With the new module measuring 52-by-37-by-7mm, RadioScape hopes to demonstrate that "it's not beyond imagination to shrink the DAB radio to a mobile handset," said Nigel Oakley, VP of marketing at RadioScape.

The newly miniaturized DAB radio module could stir up a whole new debate within the mobile industry over which digital transmission technology - digital radio or digital television broadcast - should be used for delivering one-to-many multimedia data to mobile handsets.

Promoters of the DAB digital radio are promising a significant presence at this year's 3GSM event, pitching the idea that "the marriage between DAB and the telecoms industry is inevitable."

Meanwhile, the mobile industry is also abuzz with an emerging future smart phone standard called Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld (DVB-H) based on the converged services of terrestrial digital TV broadcast and cellular networks.

The DVB industry group has just completed the core spec for DVB-H, according to Ulrich Reimers, professor at Technical University of Braunschweig, who heads up the DVB's Technical Module. Several DVB-H trials are scheduled this year throughout the world, with a plan for commercial rollouts scheduled in 2005, said Reimers.

Although it remains unclear whether the mobile industry will embrace DAB as a standard pipe to deliver multimedia programming, DAB proponents claim that silicon, software and modules to make the DAB integration into handsets are already here.

RadioScape's new tri-band module supports Eureka 147 Band III and L-band, Radio Data System (RDS) and FM for global handheld digital radio receivers. Based on DRE200 DAB receiver chip from Texas Instruments, RadioScape's micromodule offers everything OEMs need to quickly build high-volume DAB receivers, including RadioScape's DAB software stack, support for a full graphical display (128 x 64 pixels), a graphical user interface and a single job dial operation feature.

The new module is designed to extend the battery life, claimed RadioScape, with power consumption of <500mW providing up to 15h of use from three AA cells.

Asked about the emerging DVB-H standard for smart phones, RadioScape's Oakley questioned the practicality of DVB-H. "Lots of people are talking about DVB-H, but its challenges are not just the lack of receivers, but that it relies on the roll-out of a new broadcast infrastructure." In contrast, the DAB is designed from the onset for mobile environment, he added.

Besides the differences in the way the infrastructures are set up, DAB and DVB-H differ on their data rates. The DAB is designed to offer data at 1.5Mbps, while the DVB-H is to deliver 10Mbps data.

While the future of DAB on the mobile phone market largely depends on applications and services operators are willing to provide, RadioScape's Oakley predicted that the DAB radio module could be embedded into a mobile handset within the next two years.

Before making that happen, however, the industry needs to solve important technical issues such as power consumption, hardware platform integrations and hand-off issues - how not to drop incoming calls, Oakley acknowledged. But none of them are the problems that cannot be overcome, he noted.

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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