Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Two of the world’s great consumer products have converged

This is the official press release from Multichoice that I got today. Please read my review of the phone and the technology here....

Mobile television has come a long way in the past two decades since Sony first introduced the “Watchman”. The rather cumbersome portable television device never took off the way their “Walkman” did. Now, some 20 years later, MultiChoice and M-Net are offering South Africa trialists DStv on mobile phones.

While 3G mobile television has been available in this country for several months, DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast – Handheld) mobile TV is new – so new that only one country, Italy, has launched a commercial service. South Africa could be the second in the world - there are already around 2000 people on the pilot.

DVB-H differs from the mobile technology currently on offer in very fundamental ways: 3G, or Third Generation, accessible through mobile operator portals, utilises a cellular telephony network infrastructure and frequencies. It is what is referred to as a one-to-one, or point-to-point transmission. 3G has bandwidth restrictions, which means that if too many users try to tune in simultaneously the network could become overloaded, and video and audio quality compromised.

DVB-H is true mobile broadcast spectrum TV, a point-to-multipoint transmission that delivers terrestrial digital picture and sound to numerous handsets concurrently without any loss of quality.

DVB-H and 3G are, however, complementary technologies, and mobile phones in the future will be both 3G and DVB-H enabled. A consumer could watch a live soccer match via DVB-H for instance, and download a profile of a player, or request statistics about the team via 3G. Experts predict that this will be the “killer app” of the future.

A new division has been set up at MultiChoice to handle the logistics of the DVB-H trial. Linda Vermaas, CEO of M-Mobile, explains that DVB-H masts have been erected in the areas trialling the technology. “Two of the world’s greatest consumer products – the telephone and the television – have converged, and will probably change the way we consume TV, just as the mobile phone transformed telecommunications.”

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