Wanna know how to win the mobile TV war?
Open standards and competition, Nokia says
For the meantime the DVB-H camp will content itself with keeping MediaFLO outside of Europe. But surely it is already here, with the trial that BSkyB is running in the UK?
"Yes but BSkyB is trialing more than one technology and it's not made its technology choice yet and we don’t think it will choose MedaiFLO," said one attendee at the conference that preferred to remain nameless.
So, apparently, the MDTV Alliance is parlaying with BSkyB and dragging it around on similar jaunts to DVB-H sites, and still hopes to pull that one out of the bag. BSkyB is almost certain to be a bidder in the UK Ofcom auction for 1.4 GHz spectrum coming next April where a full 40 MHz is up for grabs.
But at the meeting there was some news of sorts that shows the strengthening hand of the Mobile DTV Alliance, and present to announce seven new members was the Texas Instruments employed chairman of the Alliance, Yoram Solomon.
These are made up of six new contributor members, Freescale, Harris, Mediaphy, MobiTV, Philips and Silicon and Software Systems (S3). LSI Logic has also joined at the Associate Level.
There's growing weight here. Freescale virtually missed the DVB-H boat, but has partnerships with Frontier, Philips of course has its own DVB-H solution, Harris is agnostic about transmitter technology and the various mobile TV protocols, while MobiTV wants to make the step up from Java applets for unicast video and acting as a content aggregator, to the main show. MobiTV has already made friends with IP Wireless which offers TDtv, a Time Division Duplexing version of the MBMS multicasting protocol.
MBMS was taboo at this event and barely mentioned, but the truth is that most of the bigger European operators are not investing as such in DVB-H, only partnering with broadcasters and handset makers that are. They want to keep their powder dry for the year or so that it will take for MBMS to come to the fore and offer them a viable alternative to DVB-H and other datacasting services. That would be an option that the operators can own lock stock and barrel, and which won'’t need investment in new spectrum.
So MobiTV has at least spread itself to cover all mobile TV eventualities, and it is quite likely that Texas Instruments has done the same.
There is less religious fervor about TI than about Nokia. Nokia has a lot riding on DVB-H and has part pioneered it, TI's Hollywood chip already supports DVB-H and Japan's ISDB-T, but TI was at pains to point out that it would be just a software change for the chip to support other protocols.
When asked about supported the Qualcomm MediaFLO one TI spokesman went white, but still mentioned it as a remote possibility, if it ever it totally dominated the market. We're pretty sure he turned around and said "Over my dead body," to himself afterwards, but he wanted us to know that TI designs are that flexible.
S3 was present at the event and with Packet Video, provided all of the demonstration software implementations, with Packet Video offering handset decoding and S3 writing the ESG (electronic services guide) and middleware. Irish S3 like MobiTV, is non-religious and is everybody's friend and has a foot in almost every mobile TV camp.
But despite the Mobile DTV Alliance show of what is a strengthening force, and it says it will shortly move to certification and interoperability testing, it still has no operator backed DVB-H service in the US, and it is no clearer to having a coherent business model than it was when it was launched.