EU makes it time for Freeview Mobile?
The EU Commission has approved the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting, Handheld) standard for use across the whole of the EU.
The standard, which is similar to the DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting, Terrestrial) system that provides Freeview in the UK, is optimized for mobile reception on handheld devices.
Whilst The TV channels on DVB-H are digitally multiplexed, these broadcasts are designed for the receiver to power off for those moments when the data broadcast is for other channels. So, if there are 30 channels on the service, the receiver power will only be on for 3% of the time, making hours of reception possible on a mobile phone.
In addition, the service can also use a single frequency network, so it should be possible to allocate a single TV broadcast frequency to provide a national network. The receivers can capture signals from multiple transmitters, if necessary, to provide a stable service on the move in a train or on foot. It has been suggested to Ofcom that the C36 slot be allocated to this purpose.
So, it should now be possible for a service to start. It seems logical that this should be a service that carries the same channels as Freeview. This would not only benefit anyone who wants to get a mobile phone, but would also allow areas that will not get the full Freeview service after switchover; they would be able to get the other channels from DVB-H.
Another useful feature of DVB-H is that the lower bitrates caused by lower resolution (360x288) and the improved data compression (MPEG-4) would make a personal video recorder mobile phone (a PVR-mobile) a serious suggestion.
The adoption of the standard by the EU increases the market and therefore the availability of handsets. The failure of the DAB-TV service by Virgin Mobile shows that subscription is not the way ahead for mobile TV, but a free-to-air public service could support the public service broadcasters.
For more information see Mobile TV across Europe: Commission endorses addition of DVB-H to EU List of Official Standards and the speech, Viviane Reding Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media DVB World Conference 2008 Digital TV, Mobile TV: let's push for open technologies in Europe and worldwide DVB World Conference 2008, 12 March 2008, Budapest Budapest, 12 March 2008