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TiMi Tech, Motorola bring CMMB to American shores

In report that has generated a surprising absence of interest, Interfax China's Hua Jinglei reports that CMMB developer TiMi Technologies and Motorola are deploying the Chinese CMMB digital mobile TV standard in two U.S. cities. Some speculate that the partners are aiming to deploy CMMB mobile TV service in the United States. Others dismiss that and say that Motorola, looking to steal a march on its competition in the Chinese market, is simply building its CMMB street cred close to home.

The first CMMB commercial mobile TV network will be deployed in Atlanta in September, according to an Interfax China report. "We will cooperate with Motorola to deploy the network in Atlanta and a CMMB mobile TV broadcasting center in San Diego," said TiMi Technologies' VP Yang Lei at Shanghai's Asia Future TV Summit last month.

TiMi Tech and Motorola also partnered to win a tender from mobile TV company S2M Group to deploy CMMB mobile TV networks in the League of Arab States. "With the help from our global partners, we’ve submitted applications to the International Telecommunication Union and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for the international recognition of the CMMB standard," Yang said.

Three million CMMB mobile TV chips have been shipped, and 2.2 million CMMB mobile TV devices are on store shelves. On the other hand, CMMB still has a distance to go on its home turf, according to the Interfax report.

"Subscribers to CMMB mobile TV in Shanghai only number approximately 1000 so far, which is far below our expectations," said Shen Rui, deputy marketing manager at SMEG Handy TV, the exclusive Shanghai CMMB mobile TV operator.

TiMi Tech, the brains behind CMMB, was founded by the Academy of Broadcasting Science, part of China's State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), in February 2003. TiMi Tech developed digital TV transmission technology, including high-structure LDPC channel coding, channel estimation and equalization, and fast synchronization based on OFDM modulation, which comprises the CMMB standard.

From there, TiMi Tech developed the “STiMi” satellite and terrestrial interactive multiservice infrastructure. CMMB has been described as being similar to Europe's DVB-SH standard for digital video broadcast from both satellites and terrestrial gap fillers to handheld devices.

As the patent holder for STiMi, TiMi Tech actively promotes CMMB commercial deployment — from advancing the development of transmission and receiver systems, chip design and testing equipment to the promotion of ecosystem growth.

There are plenty of companies that stand to benefit from a U.S. CMMB deployment, but it's hard to see why suppliers would go after a market of 400 million when there's still an untapped market of 1.2 billion. However, you could speculate that life would be easier for suppliers if they didn't have to support a separate standard just for North America.

Intel is also in the picture. In 2008, Intel announced support for the development of CMMB by supporting MID (mobile Internet device) and UMPC (ultra-mobile PC) platform products supporting CMMB technology. TiMi Tech has also partnered with Intel on the development and commercialization of the CMMB standard.

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