Mobile television

DMB in South Korea

Mobile television usually means television watched on a small handheld device. It may be a pay TV service broadcast on mobile phone networks or received free-to-air via terrestrial television stations from either regular broadcast or a special mobile TV transmission format. Some mobile televisions can also download television shows from the internet, including recorded TV programs and podcasts which are downloaded and stored on the mobile device for later viewing.

The first pocket sized mobile television was sold to the public by Clive Sinclair in January 1977. It was called the Microvision or the MTV-1. It had a 2in CRT screen and was also the first television which could pick up signals in various countries.[1][2]

Mobile TV is starting to gain some traction; According to the Harvard Business Review, the growing adoption of smartphones allowed users to watch as much mobile video in three days of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as they watched throughout the entire 2008 Beijing Olympics- an increase of 564%.[3]



The first televisions small enough to fit inside a pocket, the MTV-1 or (Microvision), were made available to the public by Clive Sinclair in January 1977. They had a 2in CRT screen and were also the first televisions which could receive signals in various countries. It measured 102x159x41mm and was sold for less than £100 in the UK and for around $400 in the US. The project took over ten years to develop and was funded by around £1.6 million in British Government grants.[1][2]

Mobile TV is one of the features provided by many 3G phones. In 2005, South Korea became the first country in the world to have mobile TV when it started satellite DMB (S-DMB) and terrestrial DMB (T-DMB) services on May 1 and December 1, respectively. Today, South Korea and Japan are at the forefront of this developing sector.[4] Mobile TV services were launched by the operator CSL in Hong Kong, March 2006, on the 3G network.[5] BT in the United Kingdom was the among the first companies outside South Korea to launch Mobile TV in September 2006, although the service was abandoned less than a year later.[6] The same happened to "MFD Mobiles Fernsehen Deutschland", who launched their DMB-based service June 2006 in Germany, and stopped it in April 2008.[7] Also in June 2006, mobile operator 3 in Italy (part of Hutchison Whampoa) launched their mobile TV service, but opposed to their counterpart in Germany this was based on DVB-H.[8] Sprint started offering the service in February 2006 and was the first US carrier to offer the service. In the US Verizon Wireless and more recently AT&T are offering the service.


Mobile TV is a service which allows cell phone owners to watch television on their phones from a service provider. Television data can be obtained either through an existing cellular network or a propriety network.

In South Korea, mobile TV is largely divided into satellite DMB (S-DMB) and terrestrial DMB (T-DMB). Although S-DMB initially had more content, T-DMB has gained much wider popularity because it is free and included as a feature in most mobile handsets sold in the country today.

Mobile TV is also available for consumers in India. BSNL introduced this feature for its eastern and north-eastern regions of India. In 2007, it also launched a mobile TV application called "isee". Today, isee is available not only in the four BSNL zones but also to other networks across India (except Reliance and TATA Indicom CDMA services). An individual using a streaming-enabled handset can download or access the WAP version of this application on his/her mobile by sending a simple sms "isee" to 57575 or log on to for further information.


Mobile TV usage can be divided into three classes: "fixed" (not moving while watching, but possibly moved when not being watch), "nomadic" (not used when moving fast, for example when walking), and "mobile" (used when moving fast, as in a car or other vehicle); these pose different challenges.

  • Device Manufacturer's challenges

1. Power consumption: Battery technology for mobile portable devices may be stuck in a race condition. Improved battery life can be used up by the upgraded mobile content and enhanced functions. However, dashtop mobile devices can also be powered by a 12-volt vehicle battery, however vehicle batteries are not a sustainable source of power for mobile devices.

2. Memory: To support the high buffer requirements of mobile TV. Current memory capabilities available will not be suited for long hours of mobile TV viewing. Furthermore, potential future applications like peer-to-peer video sharing in mobile phones and consumer broadcasting would definitely add to the increasing memory requirements. The existing P2P algorithms won't be enough for mobile devices, necessitating the advent of mobile P2P algorithms. There is one start-up technology that claims patentability on its mobile P2P, but has not drawn attention from device manufacturers yet.

3. User interface design: A large number of mobile phones do not support mobile TV; users have to purchase new handsets with improved LCD display and user interface that support mobile TV. This new design has to appeal to the end-users and increase the clarity of images without making the handset very bulky. The wider LCD touchscreens will be preferred by end-users and iPhone's popularity in the United States is part of the compelling evidence.

4. Processing power: Device manufacturers should improve the processing power significantly to support a MIPS intensive application like mobile TV.

  • Content Provider's challenges

The mobile TV industry opens up a new market for the content specifically tailored for mobile TVs. These could include making new mobisodes –mobile episodes of popular shows which are relatively shorter in length (3 to 5 minutes), modifying the content to suit mobile TV.

Digital TV

North America

Mobile TV and mobile digital radio has been a challenge in North America, in part, because of the decision of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to use proprietary systems instead of the principles of network neutrality. This sometimes leads to vendor lock-in by mobile phone companies and manufacturers.[citation needed][weasel words] The FCC chose the ATSC system for digital TV which, with the choice of 8VSB modulation, makes mobile reception difficult, because it is heavily prone to multipath interference (which changes rapidly in a mobile reception environment). ATSC-M/H was developed to allow for mobile reception, riding within each TV station's regular MPEG transport stream, and using heavy error correction to compensate for poor signals, while taking space out of the "bit budget" for each station's other digital subchannels and/or HDTV. In comparison with DVB-T, there is no hierarchical modulation to allow for LDTV reception, however, the use of MPEG-4 Scalable Video Coding coding in ATSC-M/H allows for scalable resolutions and frame rates. As of 2009, chipsets for ATSC-M/H were not yet in any consumer electronics devices, but early products using chipsets by LG and Samsung were shown at the 2010 CES and NAB Conferences. The FCC also chose HD Radio which, although it uses COFDM and has reasonable mobile reception, does not have provisions for mobile TV as DAB-T has with DMB-T and is incompatible even with neighboring Canada, where the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) already chose DAB in the L band. Satellite radio is also proprietary with no choice made by the FCC regarding the system. MediaFLO, which also uses COFDM, is broadcast on UHF TV channel 55, but like satellite TV is encrypted and controlled by conditional access (provided via the cellular network). Also, it must be purchased as pay TV for a limited number of cellphones which must have AT&T Mobility or Verizon Wireless phone service.

Broadcast mobile DTV development

While MediaFLO uses the TV spectrum and MobiTV used cell phone networks,[9] "mobile DTV" (ATSC-M/H) uses the digital TV spectrum. At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in April 2007 in Las Vegas, the ATSC and 8VSB methods for delivering mobile DTV were shown. A-VSB (Advanced VSB), from Samsung and Rohde & Schwarz, was shown at the previous year's show. In 2007, LG, whose Zenith Electronics came up with 8VSB, introduced (with Harris Group) its Mobile-Pedestrian-Handheld (MPH) system. As the broadcast networks began making their content available online, mobile DTV meant stations would have another way to compete. Sinclair Broadcast Group tested A-VSB in fall 2006, and its KVCW and KVMY were participating in the mobile DTV product demonstrations at the NAB show. A-VSB had worked in buses at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show. ION Media Networks started a test station on channel 38, which was to be used for digital LPTV, to use for a single-frequency network (SFN). In some areas, more than one TV transmitter would be needed to cover all areas. Mobile DTV could have been used at that time because it would not affect HDTV reception. A single standard, however, had to be developed.[10] At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2009, the first prototype devices from LG and other manufacturers were demonstrated, including receivers for cars from Kenwood, Visteon and Delphi. It was announced that 63 stations in 22 markets would debut the service in 2009. Gannett Broadcasting president David Lougee pointed out that many of those attending the inauguration of Barack Obama would likely hear him but not see him; had the new technology been in place, this would not have been a problem.[11] In April 2009, the Open Mobile Video Coalition, made up of over 800 broadcast stations, selected four test stations: Gannett's WATL and ION's WPXA-TV in Atlanta, and Fisher Communications' KOMO-TV and Belo's KONG-TV in Seattle. WPXA had begun mobile DTV broadcasting on April 1. The others would start in May.[12] Later in 2009, ION said it was making available HDTV, standard definition and Mobile DTV streams using its affiliates in New York City and Washington, D.C. The "triple-play" concept was part of an effort to create a Mobile DTV standard. At the time, only those with prototype receivers could pick up the streams. ION Chairman and CEO Brandon Burgess said mobile DTV lets stations "think beyond the living room and bring live television and real time information to consumers wherever they may be."[13] The Advanced Television Systems Committee started work on mobile DTV standards in May 2007, and manufacturers and sellers worked quickly to make the new technology a reality. The OMVC persuaded LG and Samsung to work together starting in May 2008 so that differing systems (possibly a self-destructing format war) would not delay or kill the technology. Early in July 2009, the ATSC Technology and Standards Group approved the ATSC-M/H standard for mobile DTV which all members green-lighted October 15. The public could be using the new devices by 2010, though watching TV on cell phones seemed unlikely in the near future since telephone manufacturers did not yet include that capability. The technology was expected to be used for polls and even voting.[14][15] By the end of the year, the ATSC and the Consumer Electronics Association began identifying products meeting the standard with "MDTV".[16]

Paul Karpowicz, NAB Television Board chairman and president of Meredith Broadcast Group, said

This milestone ushers in the new era of digital television broadcasting, giving local TV stations and networks new opportunities to reach viewers on the go. This will introduce the power of local broadcasting to a new generation of viewers and provide all-important emergency alert, local news and other programming to consumers across the nation.[15]

Later in July, the first multi-station tests began in Washington, D.C., while single stations in New York City and Raleigh, North Carolina already offered mobile DTV. The OMVC chose Atlanta's WATL and Seattle's KONG as "model stations" where product testing could take place. 70 stations in 28 media markets planned streams by the end of 2009. The Washington test would involve WPXW-TV, WUSA, WDCA, WRC-TV, WHUT-TV, WNUV in Baltimore, and WNVT, a part of MHz Networks, a multicasting service. All of the stations would have two of more channels each, with "electronic service guide and alert data" among the services. 20 sellers of equipment would use these stations to test using the existing standard, but testing the final standard would come later, and tests by the public would happen in 2010, when many more devices would be ready. Obviously, manufacturing large numbers of the devices could not take place without the final standard. LG, however, began mass-producing chips in June. ION technology vice president Brett Jenkins said, "We're really at a stage like the initial launch of DTV back in 1998. There are almost going to be more transmitters transmitting mobile than receive devices on the market, and that's probably what you'll see for the next six to nine months." Devices would eventually include USB dongles, netbooks, portable DVD players and in-car displays.[17] White House officials and members of Congress saw the triple-play concept in an ION demonstration on July 28, 2009 in conjunction with the OMVC.[18][19] Another demonstration took place October 16, 2009 with journalists, industry executives and broadcasters riding around Washington, D.C. in a bus with prototype devices. Included were those who would be testing the devices in the Washington and Baltimore markets in January 2010.[20] On August 7, 2009, BlackBerry service began on six TV stations--WISH-TV in Indianapolis; WAVY-TV in Hampton Roads, Virginia; KRQE in Albuquerque, New Mexico; WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana; WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama; and KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas. 27 other stations will eventually offer the service, and LIN TV, which developed the BlackBerry service, has an iPhone application planned.[19] By October, 30 stations were airing mobile DTV signals, and that number was expected to be 50 by year-end. Also in the same month, FCC chair Julius Genachowski announced efforts to increase the amount of spectrum available to wireless services.[15] Also in August, WTVE and Axcera began testing a single-frequency network (SFN) with multiple transmitters using the new mobile standard. The RNN affiliate in Reading, Pennsylvania had used this concept since 2007.[21] Richard Mertz of Cavell, Mertz & Associates says VHF won't work as well for mobile DTV because a 15-inch antenna or some other solution would be required, although he has heard from people who had no problems. An amplified antenna or higher power for the transmitting station would likely be needed, as well as repeater stations where terrain is a problem.[22] Lougee, whose company planned testing in its 19 markets in 2010, said the chip designs with the new devices made targeted advertising possible.[20] In December 2009, Concept Enterprises introduced the first Mobile DTV tuner for automobiles. Unlike earlier units, this one will provide a clear picture without pixilation in a fast-moving vehicle, using an LG M/H chip and a one-inch roof-mounted antenna. No subscription wil be required.[23] Also in December, the Consumer Electronics Association hosted a "plugfest" in Washington, D.C. to allow manufacturers to test various devices. More than 15 companies, and engineers from different countries, tested four transmission systems, 12 receiver systems, and four software types.[16][24] On December 1, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said mobile DTV would be important to the future of all journalism, and he planned to offer TV and possibly newspaper content in this way.[25] At the January 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, NAB head Gordon H. Smith disputed the idea that broadcasting's days were numbered, calling mobile DTV the proof over-the-air television would continue its popularity. He said people would use cell phones and other devices to watch, and broadcast technology would be the best way to do this. Wireless broadband, which some wanted to replace broadcasting, would not be able to handle the demand for video services.[26] ION's Burgess showed off one of the first iPhones capable of receiving mobile DTV, while ION's Jenkins showed an LG Maze and a Valups Tivit; the latter sends signals to the iPod Touch and will soon work with the Google Nexus.[27] Sinclair Broadcast Group director of advanced technology Mark Aitken said the mobile DTV concept of multiple transmitters would help free up spectrum for wireless broadband in rural areas but not large cities. He also explained to the FCC that mobile DTV was the best method for sending out live video to those using cell phones and similar devices.[28] The OMVC's Mobile DTV Consumer Showcase began May 3, 2010 and lasted all summer. Nine stations planned to send out 20 programs, including local and network shows as well as cable programs, to Samsung Moment phones. Dell Netbooks and Valups Tivits also received programming.[29] On September 23, 2010, Media General began its first MDTV service at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, and a month later had plans to do the same at WFLA-TV in the Tampa Bay area. However, viewers still had few choices for using the service, and they needed to be made aware the service existed.[30]

On November 19, 2010, a joint venture known as the Mobile Content Venture announced plans to improve the capabilities of TV stations in 20 markets representing 40 percent of the United States population by the end of 2011.[31]

Brian Lawlor, a Scripps TV senior vice president, said that in September 2011, Scripps stations would offer an app allowing people with an iPhone or iPad to see emergency information (such as a weather bulletin) in the event of a power outage.[32]

Mobile TV standards

  • DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld) - Europe, Asia
  • ATSC-M/H (ATSC Mobile/Handheld) - North America
  • T-DMB (Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcast) - South Korea
  • 1seg (One Segment) - Mobile TV system on ISDB-T
  • ISDB-Tmm (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial Mobile Multimedia) - Japan
  • MediaFLO - launched in US, trialled in UK and Germany
  • DMB-T/H - China and Hong Kong
  • DAB-IP (Digital Audio Broadcast) - UK
  • iMB (Integrated Mobile Broadcast, 3GPP MBMS)
  • DVB-SH (Digital Video Broadcasting - Satellite for Handhelds)
  • S-DMB (Satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcast) - South Korea
  • CMMB (China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting) - China

The European Union adopted DVB-H/DVB-SH over other versions of the technology in 2008.

See also


  1. ^ a b Clive's achievements Sinclair Research
  2. ^ a b Video and TV gear,
  3. ^
  4. ^ via Yahoo! Finance: Mobile TV Spreading in Europe and to the U.S., May 6, 2008
  5. ^ 3G UK: The service is based on the Golden Dynamic Enterprises Ltd.'s "VOIR Portal" and follows the 3GPP standard 3G-324 M. The same service is also deployed to Philippines in 2007.
  6. ^ ZDnet: BT ditches mobile TV service, 26 July 2007
  7. ^ Broadband TV news: MFD hands back German T-DMB licence, May 1, 2008
  8. ^ The Register: DVB-H rockets ahead in Italy, 28 July 2006
  9. ^ Thompson, Mark (2010-06-03). "mobile tv cell phone networks:". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2010-06-03. [dead link]
  10. ^ Dickson, Glen (2007-04-14). "NAB: Mobile DTV Hits the Strip". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  11. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-01-11). "CES: Broadcasters' Mobile DTV Moment". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  12. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-04-20). "NAB 2009: Broadcasters Set Mobile DTV Test Markets". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  13. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-06-29). "ION Broadcasts Mobile DTV in N.Y., D.C.: Hails Its Digital TV "Triple Play"". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  14. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-07-06). "ATSC-M/H voted to proposed standard status". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  15. ^ a b c Dickson, Glen (2009-10-16). "Mobile DTV Standard Approved". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  16. ^ a b Dickson, Glen (2009-12-16). "ATSC Launches Certification Program For Mobile DTV". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  17. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-07-13). "Special Report: Mobile DTV Heats Up". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  18. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-07-22). "ION, OMVC Organize DTV Showcase in D.C.". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  19. ^ a b Eggerton, John (2009-08-07). "LIN TV Develops Blackberry App For Mobile TV Service". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  20. ^ a b Eggerton, John (2009-10-16). "OMVC Does Mobile DTV Tour". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  21. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-12-18). "WTVE Tests SFN For Mobile DTV". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  22. ^ Jessell, Harry A. (2009-09-24). "Digital VHF Needs A Power Boost". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  23. ^ Gilroy, Amy (2009-11-09). "First Mobile DTV Car Tuner At $499". TWICE. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  24. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-12-02). "Mobile DTV Picks Up Speed". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  25. ^ Eggerton, John (2009-12-01). "Murdoch Says Mobile TV Is Key to Future". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  26. ^ Dickson, Glen (2010-01-07). "CES 2010: Broadcasters Tout Mobile DTV Progress". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  27. ^ Dickson, Glen (2010-01-09). "NAB Shows Off New Spectrum Applications". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  28. ^ Eggerton, John (2010-01-18). "FCC's Bellaria Says Broadcasters Lobbying Against Scenario That's No Longer On Table". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  29. ^ Dickson, Glen (2010-05-03). "Mobile DTV's Real-World Test". Broadcasting & Cable. 
  30. ^ Winslow, George (2010-10-18). "Media General Expands MDTV Services". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  31. ^ Kurz, Phil (2010-11-22). "OMVC welcomes Mobile Content Venture plans to upgrade stations for mobile video delivery". Broadcast Engineering. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  32. ^ Malone, Michael (2011-09-12). "Broadcaster of the Year: Brian Lawlor". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  • Local TV Could Spur Mobile TV Adoption.CNET News.

Sources: BBC

External links

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