Digital Video Broadcasting–Handheld (DVB–H): Technology for Mobile TV

Published: 22 Jun 2006

    By Jagadeesh Sampath, Research Associate


    Bored of hearing MP3 songs or watching stored videos on handheld devices such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDA’s), and multimedia players, here is a broadcast technology that can provide mobile TV services to portable devices. Named digital video broadcasting-handheld (DVB-H), this technology can perform digital transmission of radio, video, and television channels while optimized to support handheld devices. This technology allows users to watch their favorite TV programs on their mobile devices.

    DVB-H: Historical Background

    DVB-H is based on the digital video broadcasting-terrestrial (DVB-T) technology, which was designed for the fixed reception of digital signals. In the late 90's research was started by the DVB community to study the reception of DVB-T signals by mobile devices. Within a couple of years, a conclusion was arrived at, which stated that these signals could be received by mobile devices, provided dedicated networks were available. Later, the signal reception performance of the transmission layer of DVB-T was improved by adding spatial diversity to time and frequency diversity. Moreover, the flexibility of DVB-T was improved. However, there was a need for the DVB community to provide a technical specification for a broadcasting technology that can support high-quality multimedia content to mobile terminals. As a result, DVB-H was introduced and published as the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard.

    DVB-H: Technical Outline

    Adopting the DVB-T for digital transmission, DVB-H satisfies the requirements of mobile terminal receivers, which are powered by battery. DVB-H offers a set of features that provide power saving while offering high-quality video. The following are the features of DVB-H:

  • Power consumption is reduced by the time slicing technology
  • Data is broadcast in the form of IP datagram; therefore, it can be used for any type of data
  • High data rates are offered for downstream channels
  • High-quality picture and audio

    An insight into time slicing technology provides a reasonable idea about how power consumption is reduced. Since IP datagram is transmitted in the form of data bursts in small time slots, mobile terminal receivers are switched on only when the bursts are in air. As a result, the unwanted switching of receivers is avoided, in turn reducing power consumption. Due to high data rates, the data received can be stored in a buffer, and live streaming can be performed accordingly. Power consumption mainly depends on the on/off time of the receiver. Hence, the shorter the on/off time, the more power that is saved. Up to 90 percent power saving can be achieved by this technology. Time slicing also provides an easy way to switch to and search different DVB-H networks when the mobile device is on the move, thus reducing the additional hardware required. The frequency bands on which DVB-H works are VHF-III, UHF-VI, and UHF-V and L.

    DVB-H: Mobile Terminal Receivers

    Handheld devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, and multimedia players need to have integrated receivers for mobile TV reception. There a few companies producing mobile TV chips.

     DTV1000 and DTV1001 are the mobile broadcast chips form Texas Instruments Incorporated. DIB7000-H is DiBcom’s DVB-H receiver chip which also supports DVB-T. Siano Mobile Silicon Ltd.’s SMS1000 supports reception of DVB-H, DVB-T and T-DMB. Philips semiconductor has designed two DVB-H receiver chips; BGT210 for Europe and BGT211 for the United States. These receiver chips can be integrated onto mobile devices for the reception of DVB-H signals. One of the latest products in the market is the Nokia N92 mobile phone, which has a built-in DVB-H receiver.

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