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Mandating China mobile TV spec, bad move

Posted: 06 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:BDA China Ltd? mobile TV? mobile TV standard? Duncan Clark? Mike Clendenin?

China's move to force-feed a new mobile TV standard into the already cluttered market for the technology is a bad move and adds further pressure to implement some sort of mobile TV service by the 2008 Summer Olympics, as promised, a prominent China analyst said Monday.

"There is a very interesting debate going on in China between domestic standards and working within the international standards. It is a mistake for China to push its own (mobile TV technology)," said Duncan Clark, managing director of BDA China Ltd, a Beijing-based telecom consultancy.

"They should work to balance their interests, as you have seen in Korea with Wibro and WiMax, and find ways to cooperate and help Chinese vendors sell into the global market," he said. Clark made his remarks during a workshop on mobile TV at this week's Telecom World 2006, an International Telecommunications Union event that happens every four years.

In October, China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) introduced a specification known as China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting (CMMB). It is based on homegrown technology called Satellite and Terrestrial Interactive Multi-service Infrastructure, which supports the S- and UHF/VHF bands and will use both satellites and terrestrial relays to implement coverage. The service operates in the 2.6GHz frequency, using 25MHz of bandwidth to offer 25 video and 30 audio channels plus some data channels.

SARFT said the standard would be mandatory, effectively blocking the potential nationwide deployment of Europe's DVB-H, Qualcomm's Media-FLO and South Korea's Terrestrial DMB. Clark said there may be some local DMB services, which would cater to local content, while CMMB would be a national service that SARFT promotes.

"China has committed to the international Olympic committee to enable mobile TV, and August 2008 is not that long away," Clark said. "They are proposing that two satellites be launched, and that takes time and costs a lot of money. So some in the industry have doubts as to whether SARFT can get this done."

Clark noted that DMB already has a foothold in China, with services in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.

Although CMMB has the support of SARFT, which issues broadcast licenses in China, it is not supported by a rival Chinese regulator, the Ministry of Information Industry, nor have telecom operators swung behind it.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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