Skip to main content

TI cell phone DTV chip works with multiple standards, excluding E-VSB

You may have noticed articles about receiving high-definition TV on a cell phone in the news last week. The New York Times carried an article with the titleComing Soon: High-Definition TV Phones. While the picture on a cell phone screen could hardly be considered high definition, the articles describe a new chip from Texas Instrument that does allow mobile phones to display digital TV. The Texas Instruments news release Texas Instruments Brings Live Digital TV to Your Cell Phone provides information on a new chip called "Hollywood" that will "capture broadcast signals and allow cell phone users to watch live broadcasts ranging from their favorite reality TV shows to major sporting events and breaking news."

Unfortunately for U.S. TV broadcasters, "Hollywood" won't receive 8-VSB or E-VSB signals. According to the news release, it supports only the DVB-H and ISDB-T standards. The system will support Crown Castle's L-band DVB-H transmissions in the United States. Crown Castle's plans were described in RF Report for Sept. 21, 2004. Michael Schueppert, senior vice president of business development at Crown Castle commented on TI's new chip.

"The digital TV phone marketplace is nascent and needs technology leaders with combined wireless and consumer electronics experience like Texas Instruments to drive open standards-based digital TV handset technology," he said. "Just as open standards fueled innovation and growth in the cellular phone market, the same will hold true for the digital TV phone market. Crown Castle recognizes that TI is committed to flexible and open solutions, which will help our customers get to market in the shortest possible time and with maximum differentiation."

TI said the chip uses its digital RF processor technology, allowing it to combine a tuner, OFDM demodulator and channel decoder processor into a single chip, rather than the three usually required for these functions. Field trials are currently underway in the United States, Europe and Japan. Samples of the chip should be available in 2006.

Will TI add VSB capability to "Hollywood" so that cell phone users can tune in conventional free TV broadcasts? It seems unlikely, as there are substantial differences between an OFDM demodulator and a VSB demodulator. Also, as was noted in the Crown Castle presentation linked to in the earlier RF Report article, there is little economic justification to providing free TV to cell phones when money can be made offering programming for a fee.