Global Sources
EE Times-Asia
Stay in touch with EE Times Asia
EE Times-Asia > RF/Microwave

Now showing: Olympics on analog TV

Posted: 06 Aug 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Beijing Olympics? China CMMB? analog TV? mobile TV?

How many people in China will watch the Beijing Olympic Games on mobile phones? Plenty, but most will not tune in to China's fledgling digital mobile TV broadcasts. Instead, they will use the old-school analog signals.

Analog TV is a hot feature in domestic mobile handsets, according to Sino Market Research Ltd in Beijing. Shipments of phones equipped with analog mobile TV are expected to reach as many as 25 million units in 2008, which is roughly 15 percent of all handset sales. Telegent Systems, a Sunnyvale, California-based developer of low-power, high-performance mobile-TV receiver chips, has been a clear winner in this market.

Even as mobile analog TV picks up viewers, the pilot launch of digital mobile TV in China will be held at the Olympic Games in August, with a plan to broadcast programs in more than 30 cities over a UHF spectrum band.

The vehicle is a homegrown system known as China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting (CMMB), which is designed to pick up both a 2.6GHz satellite signal and a 700MHz terrestrial signal. CMMB is the presumptive nominee for China's digital mobile TV standard. Together with TD-SCDMA, a 3G cellular standard proprietary to China, this is to be showcased at the Beijing games.

CMMB not yet ready
But no satellite capable of demonstrating CMMB's potential will be up and running in time for the Olympics. EchoStar Technologies LLC, the primary provider of S-band satellite capacity for China's mobile video project, has pulled out quietly. The company revealed in late May that it was suspending its CMMB satellite construction.

At least some observers think the standard will stand on its own, even without satellite. "Satellite is designed to cover the rural areas of China with CMMB-based broadcast signals," said Alon Ironi, CEO, Siano Mobile, an Israeli IC startup focusing on mobile TV. With China becoming heavily urbanized, terrestrial broadcast can cover large cities, where the demand for mobile TV is more likely," he added.

But CMMB-based handsets won't be available in time for the Olympics. He noted that consumers will pick up CMMB signals to watch the Games not on phones but on portable media players or by adding a USB dongle to a notebook.

Meanwhile, China's State Administration of Radio, Film and TV (Sarft), the biggest promoter of the CMMB standard, is sticking to its satellite plans. "Every CMMB device needs a Sarft certification and satellite reception is required for all devices despite the current absence of satellite signals," Ironi said.

Partner companies
CMMB's arrival has spawned two local chip companies that supply devices for the standard. Innofidei, an original member of the CMMB working group, last year was the first to demonstrate its baseband chip. Armed with its demodulator/tuner chip, Innofidei recently partnered with Santa Clara, California-based NeoMagic Corp., provider of a multimedia processor that decodes broadcast TV. Fabless CMMB newcomer Telepath Technologies Co. has picked Infineon Technologies as its strategic partner and China's SM Investments Corp. as its foundry.

Siano is the only nonlocal vendor developing CMMB parts and the only one offering the tuner and baseband on a single chip. Its high-end CMMB solution is capable of connecting to two UHF antennas and two S-band antennas. Lower-cost CMMB chips support only one antenna per spectrum band.

The real scenario
The emergence of local standards and technology suppliers generates positive headlines in China, but the reality is more complex. China is a vast country where provincial regulators have their own voices. A constant power struggle rages among competing agencies. Local OEMs and technology suppliers, meanwhile, are hard-core capitalists and devout opportunists; they follow the money. TV broadcast standards are a case in point. ATSC is the only digital TV signal allowed in the United States, while in Europe, it's DVB-T. In China, you can have them all.

Weijie Yun, CEO, Telegent, however, doesn't believe any of the divergent broadcast signals will last long. A groundswell of interest in China to adopt Korea's T-DMB in 2005 to 2006 was stopped last year, he cited, after a high-ranking government official spoke out in favor of a homegrown standard.

"It's critical from a PR perspective for the Chinese government to settle on one mobile TV standard," said Yun.

- Junko Yoshida
EE Times

Article Comments - Now showing: Olympics on analog TV
*? You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.

Back to Top