The Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) Project has completed the core spec for DVB-Handheld (DVB-H), a future smart phone system built on converged services of terrestrial digital TV broadcasting and mobile communication network.
The industry group is currently "in an implementation phase" on DVB-H, said Reimers. The DVB-H field trials have already begun in Helsinki since the end of 2003, with additional trials starting in Pittsburgh in April and in Germany in June. Significant commercial services will roll out in 2005, he added.
The DVB-H is designed to deliver 10 Mbps data to a battery-powered terminal. The DVB-H terminals will be able to receive multimedia content — based on IP datacast — either via digital terrestrial TV network (DVB-T) or mobile network such as UMTS.
The DVB-H is expected to deliver powerful point-to-multipoint multimedia services for handheld devices. For example, 60,000 people in a soccer stadium will be able to see an instant playback of certain plays — broadcast by DVB-T — on their mobile phones without clogging up a mobile network.
Key components of DVB-H the DVB group developed include DVB-H annex to the current DVB-T spec, modified DVB Service Information, IP data encapsulation, and backbone spec for Single Frequency Network. The network architecture also requires a so-called "Cooperate Platform," which considers the network popularity and makes an intelligent decision on whether to use a terrestrial digital TV network or mobile network to deliver requested content to a DVB-H terminal.
Shrinking silicon down to a commercially viable size is always a challenge, but "the biggest challenge [in designing DVB-H chips] will be in protocol layers," said Reimers. The DVB-H needs to be able to communicate both terrestrial broadcast network and mobile network, while allowing the DVB-H infrastructure to make network choices.
The DVB group, already getting lots of interest from leading mobile operators and handset vendors, is highly optimistic of the emerging DVB-H market. Nokia already has a DVB-H prototype, called Nokia 7700. Some industry observers are estimating a DVB-H terminal market of 100 million units in 2007.