Orange takes stance in mobile TV standards war

While rivals work on other standards, Orange is backing TDtv for the delivery of its mobile multimedia services

Orange has teamed with IPWireless to test mobile TV in the UK.

IPWireless' TV standard, TDtv, uses existing but unused 3G spectrum to broadcast up to 50 TV channels for mobile phone screens or 16 for PDA -sized displays.

Based on the 3G Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Standard (MBMS), TDtv is in competition with DVB-T and DAB-based standards for the nascent mobile TV market, but unlike them it uses radio spectrum that is already licensed by the majority of mobile phone operators.

"Our new TDtv multimedia platform will allow Orange to evaluate the use of its unpaired 1.9GHz spectrum to deliver unparalleled multimedia services for subscribers," said Dr. Bill Jones, chief operating officer at IPWireless, in a statement. "We believe that the unmatched combination of performance and economics has the potential to put Orange in the lead in the emerging mobile multimedia market."

The trials are due to start in mid-2006, and will initially use PDAs with SD card wireless modems. IPWireless says that because MBMS is already integrated into the 3G suite of standards, it will be particularly easy for operators to build mobile TV services into their networks with minimal software and billing changes.

Since the frequencies used are adjacent to that already in use for voice and data the infrastructure engineering and network planning requirements are similarly reduced, IPWireless claims.

Earlier this week, BT announced details of its mobile TV service which uses DAB, while Nokia said it was partnering with Sony Ericsson to work on DVB-T.

Analysis suggest that DAB will not deliver as technologically advanced service as DVB-T or TDtv. However, DAB does appear to have the advantage in terms of time — BT plans to launch a commercial mobile TV service this summer.