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Philips tunes in U.S. market with mobile TV device

Posted by iNext - 2005-12-13

MADISON, Wis. — In hopes of getting U.S. consumers to connect to live digital TV on their mobile phones, Philips Semiconductors is rolling out a TV-on-mobile device on Monday (Dec. 12), complete with a TV tuner and a demodulator that complies with the DVB-H standard and specifically designed for us in a U.S. frequency band.

Philips has been sampling the system-in-package (SIP) device, dubbed BGT211, since the summer to the top six mobile handset vendors, according to GertJan Kaat, senior vice president and general manager of Philips Semiconductors Mobile & Personal Business Unit.

The Dutch semiconductor company’s hope is for the TV-on-mobile device to play a key role next year in mobile handsets scheduled for use in a DVB-H network. That network is being built by Crown Castle Mobile Media in the United States.

Several semiconductor vendors, including Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics, have revealed plans to launch DVB-H-based TV-on-mobile chips. Still, the only commercially available devices on the market now are the SIP solution from Philips and solutions based on two separate chips: a TV tuner from Freescale and a DVB-H demodulator from France-based DiBcom, according to Kaat. "Ours is the only complete solution supplied by a single company," he claimed.

A single package solution from one supplier is attractive to handset vendors, said Kaat, because it offers "better logistics and support for the development environment," while providing an optimal low-power solution.

Low power operation is a key requirement for TV-on-mobile solutions. "Consumers absolutely will not tolerate" a shortened standby time for their TV-enabled mobile handsets, said Kaat.

The SIP, together with the TV tuner and the demodulator, consumes less than 50 mW of power in DVB-H mode, consuming 300 mW in continuous mode, Philips said.

It currently comes in a small module package measuring 15 by 25 by 2 mm, shrinking next year to 9 by 9 by 2 mm.

While Crown Castle is believed to be further along in setting up its DVB-H-based mobile TV broadcast network, it has not revealed which cellular network operators it will wholesale its infrastructure to.

DVB-H is not the only mobile TV broadcast standard being pitched to the cell phone industry in the U.S. Qualcomm, promoting its proprietary mobile TV technology called MediaFLO, announced Dec. 1 that Verizon will provide real-time mobile video over the MediaFLO multicasting network. The operator, however, has not announced when it will launch the service.

Philips’ TV-on-mobile solution is designed for DVB-H, not for MediaFLO. Philips currently has no programs to support MediaFLO.

How quickly mobile TV service catches on as a popular feature among relatively conservative U.S. consumers remains a wild card. Kaat said, “We are putting all our hopes on mobile TV.” Of 1.2 billion handsets expected to be sold in 2008, Kaat said, “Even if 10 to 20 percent of that are TV-enable handsets, it’s a huge market.”

Philips’ TV-on-mobile product is priced at between $10 to $12, said Kaat.

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