NTL, Crown Castle Plan DVB-H Trials
September 21, 2004
At IBC 2004, there were two announcements on the rollout of multimedia services to handheld devices using DVB-H technology. NTL announced it was partnering with UK cellular operator O2 for a large-scale commercial trial of DVB-H in Oxford. Crown Castle also stated they planned to establish a nationwide DVB-H network in the United States using 5 MHz of L-band spectrum obtained in an FCC auction last year. Use of this spectrum will allow DVB-H to be launched in the U.S. without a pre-existing DVB-T network in place.
The NTL trial in Oxford will give 500 people access to a 16-channel DVB-H service including music, news, sports, drama and cartoons using terminals supplied by Nokia.
Information on the Crown Castle DVB-H plans was limited, but a paper presented by Nick Davies from Crown Castle to the IP Datacasting Forum in April 2004 provides some insight. The report notes that "existing networks (3G, analog, and digital broadcast) cannot support live broadband entertainment and information at prices consumers will find attractive," explaining that video services consume 10x the capacity of voice services and that analog TV has poor performance in a mobile environment and offers "free-to-air" services only, making it an unattractive business model for wireless carriers. The paper includes a summary of the different digital broadcasting standards and their suitability for mobile reception, low power handheld devices and broadband services. It says DVB-H is technically superior because it has the lowest power consumption, best RF performance and best spectrum efficiency. DVB-H has broad manufacturer support and a clear licensing regime.
The IP Datacasting Forum paper describes a 3-site single frequency network (SFN) test network in Pittsburgh using DVB-H technology, but provides little technical data
Additional information is available in the DVB organization's news release DVB-H for the UK and the US, and an article on DailyWireless.org.