Orange, T-Mobile UK plan MBMS-based mobile TV trial in the U.K.

Orange and T-Mobile UK announced at last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, plans to jointly pilot a new mobile TV and multimedia broadcast service in London based on Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS) technology.

The pilot, which will use NextWave Wireless’ UMTS MBMS-based TDtv solution, is scheduled for the second half of this year and will be targeted at people living or working in West London. Orange, T-Mobile UK and NextWave Wireless hope to prove that when mobile operators share unpaired 3G spectrum and a standards-based MBMS broadcast network, it is possible to significantly reduce the cost of delivering high-quality, mass-market mobile TV and multimedia broadcast services.

During the six-month pilot, Orange and T-Mobile UK customers will use TDtv-enabled WCDMA handsets to receive up to 24 high-resolution TV channels along with 10 digital radio stations. The channel lineup is expected to include many of the most popular broadcast and premium TV channels in the UK.

For the pilot, NextWave is lending its TDtv network infrastructure based on the 3GPP UMTS TDD MBMS standard and a TDtv Device Integration Pack, a complete chipset and software package enabling handset vendors to add TDtv to any multimedia-enabled WCDMA handset. NextWave's PacketVideo (PV) subsidiary will provide a complete electronic programming guide (EPG) that will integrate the TDtv service with the operators' existing 3G services. PacketVideo will also provide the pilot its new MediaFusion platform, a client-server software application that allows mobile operators to develop and launch on-device portals for rich media services, including personalized streaming radio, live TV and video-on-demand.

MBMS proponents see the service as a way for operators to deploy broadcast-quality mobile TV over existing GSM (3G) or UMTS cellular networks without the cost of a major infrastructure upgrade and the spectrum availability issues common to many broadcast mobile TV technologies. Speaking at a panel discussion that took place at the Mobile World Congress, Dr. William Jones, CEO of network products for NextWave Wireless, said that while the spectrum needed to deliver broadcast mobile TV is not available in many countries, and/or is already owned by broadcasters, not mobile operators, the spectrum that supports MBMS — known as TDD or UMTS TDD — is already available in roughly 60 countries around the world and is owned primarily by mobile operators.

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