DVB-X – the marriage of DTT with 3G

At the recent Dublin DVB World conference, DVB announced that it plans to provide specifications for how to broadcast video content such as music video, film trailers and other multimedia content to handsets. DVB-X promises to bring “one to many” services into the world of 2.5 and 3G mobile handsets, over delivery technologies such as GPRS and UMTS.

Goeran Wahlberg, director of concepts and technology at Nokia, noted that the specification would be used for distributing “audiovisual and multimedia services to all citizens, independent of their location.” He said that DVB-X might become “a mandatory spec for handheld devices in the future.”

The new standard is expected to involve a set of new extensions to the well-known DVB-T standard and is intended to be as backwardly compatible as possible with DVB-T.

The extensions will address data rates, power consumption issues and specialised content delivery capabilities. Professor Ulrich Reimers, chairman of the DVB Technical Module, widely known as the architect of DVB, pointed out that while DVB-T is flexible enough to be received on any kind of device, it cannot do “digital TV broadcast for 24 hours on a mobile handset powered by a standard battery.”

Reimers added that data rates achieved would be around 15 Mbit/s. The most likely network configuration, he said, would be a large-scale Single Frequency Network and a power consumption of less than 100 mW for the DVB-X receiver.

These figures should be raising hairs on the necks of the suffering telcos in 3G land, who are not even sure the UMTS system will give a moving user 2Mbit/s. If one adds that the delivery will most likely involve an IP session, and the fact that DVB is working on its MPEG Implementation guidelines to include Advanced Video Coding (AVC), also known as MPEG-4 Part 10 or H.264, which can deliver Mobile Handset sized video at 176x144 pixels at bit rates of between 50 and 100 kbit/s, even SDTV terrestrial broadcasters will be pulling out their calculators.

DVB has issued a call for technical proposals and is aiming for implementation in 2006.

Editor's note: See the April issue of Broadcast Engineering for a special MPEG-4 report, which includes a full discussion of the technology.

Back to the top