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Confusion clouds China DTV spec

Posted: 07 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:China DTV spec? digital terrestrial broadcasting in China? DTV broadcasting? DTT?

Is the technology behind China's digital terrestrial TV (DTT) standard open to all players or being closely guarded by a select, local few?

Siano Mobile Silicon Inc. and DiBcom are among the companies that say the standard, originally known as DMB-T, isn't as open as one might think. They claim they can't get their hands on it, and that's one reason they won't support it as an alternative to satellite for cellphones.

But Lin Yang, chief executive at Legend Silicon Corp., countered that you can find the spec in any bookstore in China for about a buck, and that the government is offering a royalty-free period of two years. After that, he said, a RAND (reasonable and nondiscriminatory) licensing policy will be put in place. The government's official line is that DMB-T is open to all.

Like most countries, China is busy with the task of switching from analog to digital, first in the cable TV market, then in free-to-air TV. In the latter, China is following a homegrown specification developed by a couple of local universities. The intellectual property was spun off to a few companies, such as Legend and Shanghai High Definition Digital Technology Co.

It's always tough to separate fact from fiction in China. A few larger multinationals with a heavy presence in the country are in the camp that says it's open. STMicroelectronics Inc., for instance, said the spec is available, but clearly Legend and Shanghai High Definition are leading the market because of their early involvement with its development. ST will use Legend's demodulator in its reference designs.

ST believes that as the market takes off in a few years, more players will enter. Conexant is already developing silicon for DMB-T and plans to have samples by the beginning of next year.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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