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New SA broadcast challenger edges closer to launch - 21 September 2011

 

Mobile TV, the company planning to introduce mobile television services in SA using Korea’s digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) standard, says it could be ready to start broadcasting commercially within three months in Gauteng. It is also planning to introduce SA’s first digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio stations — seen potentially as an eventual replacement to FM radio — as well as “visual radio” services, which offer visuals over normal radio broadcasts.

Mobile TV founder and chairman Mothobi Mutloatse says the company is itching to get a commercial licence from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) so it can launch services. It currently has a 12-month test licence, which expires at the end of November. It’s been running a pilot broadcast from the Sentech tower in Brixton, Johannesburg. It has produced two technical reports for Icasa, one using a 600W transmitter and another using 2 000W equipment. The test frequency is in the VHF band, with transmission equipment provided by Harris. “We have submitted the first of several processes towards the permanent licence application using the same frequency on VHF, which is the most appropriate for mobile television broadcasting,” Mutloatse says.

If Icasa gives it the go-ahead, Mobile TV will be the second company to offer mobile television in SA after MultiChoice introduced DStv Mobile earlier this year in partnership with e.tv. MultiChoice uses a rival technology to DMB called digital video broadcasting handheld, or DVB-H, developed in Europe, but Mutloatse claims DMB is the superior technology. Mobile TV was recently appointed to the steering committee of the International DMB Advancement Group, which comprises members from 14 countries. Mobile TV has partnered with a company called Hi-Tech Audio, which has exclusive rights to the DMB technology in SA. Its MD, Kevin Manas, says Mobile TV’s tests have shown it can broadcast at distances of up to 70km from the broadcast tower using VHF spectrum. The test transmitter is providing broadcasts across the greater Johannesburg area.

Mutloatuse says Mobile TV plans to introduce a range of DMB access devices in the SA market, including tablets and mobile phones — most of them of Korean origin. It also plans to offer an adapter/receiver for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that allows users of the Apple devices to watch television and listen to radio on the go. (TechCentral is testing the adapter and will bring its readers a review soon.) The company is also investigating devices that can be fitted in taxis that will offer programming and targeted advertising to commuters.

Mutloatse is confident Mobile TV will be successful in its application for a licence. “When the first licences were issued, it was on the understanding that there would be a second phase that would include those that did not receive a licence [in the first round],” he says. “Icasa hasn’t told us when the second phase will happen but we are engaging with them because we want to fast-track this.” The company also plans to offer SA’s first digital radio broadcasts using DAB as well as visual radio products. “We were the first to introduce visual radio with MetroFM,” he says. “We believe this will turn commercial radio into a new experience [because] it implies there could be station ID, artist ID, visual imagery and running text of current news.”

MetroFM and 5fm, both SABC radio stations, have formed part of Mobile TV’s trial, with 5fm available using DAB. During the test phase, the company has access to one block of frequency. It hopes to get three blocks to launch commercial services, which would allow it to provide six television channels and six visual radio channels, with half of each offering interactive services like games via a mobile return path. Asked how long Mobile TV would need to build its network, Mutloatse says the company will focus first on Gauteng by building three transmitters, one in Johannesburg, one in Pretoria and the third in the south of the province. It will then roll out services to KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, the Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and North-West. “Within 18 months, we will have national coverage and 19 sites,” he says. “Within a year, we should have reached 43% population coverage.” The national high sites will be provided by Sentech. The company has also begun talks with the mobile operators about offering services through their networks. Mutloatse is reluctant to talk about the company’s financial backers and shareholders, saying a restructuring is underway that must still be approved by the board of directors. He reveals that the investment arm of the Communication Workers Union is taking a stake.He says it’s also too early to reveal what channels it plans to offer, but he hints that Mobile TV may work with government to offer educational channels on a regional level. The main target market for the service will be people in living standards measures six to eight.  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral


 

TV in your pocket: Mobile TV’s DMB adapter reviewed - 20 September 2011

Mobile TV, the company looking to take radio and TV broadcasts to mobile devices in SA and challenge DStv Mobile in the process, has been running trials of Korea’s digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) standard since late last year. TechCentral’s Craig Wilson put the test service through its paces using a tivizenDMB adapter for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The DMB adapter offers Mobile TV’s test broadcasts of SABC1 and SABC2, a “visual radio” broadcast of Metro FM and digital audio of 5fm.
Expected to cost about R280 when the service is launched commercially, the tivizenDMB adapter offers SA’s first digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio stations alongside “visual radio”, which offers visual content over normal radio. Mobile TV’s pilot signal is broadcast from the Sentech tower in Brixton, Johannesburg using VHF spectrum, which the company says offers approximately a 70km radius of coverage. Our results with the tivizenDMB device have been mixed. Installation and operation are simple enough: one need simply download an application and plug the adaptor into the dock connecter.

 

On first launch, the app insisted on a firmware update, but this was almost instant. After the update, the application opened and scanned for available TV and radio stations, which were displayed in a bar at the bottom of the screen. At present, the application isn’t available in the SA App Store, and has to be downloaded via one of the European stores. However, Mobile TV says the application will be available in the local store at time of launch. The adapter supports the DMB, DAB and DAB+ broadcast standards. Selecting SABC1 or 2 brings the channel up almost instantly, much like changing channels on a regular TV with a remote. The channels are displayed at a resolution of 320×240, which, although less than ideal on an iPad, is quite sufficient on an iPhone or iPod Touch. Subtitles are, nevertheless, legible on both varieties of device. The application also includes a Web browser with shortcuts to Twitter, Facebook and popular sites like BBC News. When using the browser, the current channel is displayed in the top left-hand corner and audio is unaffected. It’s also possible to record TV or radio using the application, with the amount of content that can be recorded dependent on how much space is available on the device being used.

The application automatically detects screen rotation and resizes automatically, and the adapter’s battery status is displayed next to a signal strength indicator. The adapter is charged via microUSB, but can also draw power from the device to which it is connected, if necessary. The adapter weighs a mere 20g, and is about the size of a matchbox. We were unable to test either Metro FM or 5fm due a problem with the test broadcast. Mobile TV was aware of the issue and said it was working to rectify it.
Mobile TV has a 12-month test licence that is set to expire at the end of November. The company hopes to get a commercial license from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) so that it can launch officially before the end of the year. If Icasa does grant Mobile TV a licence it will become the second company offering mobile TV in SA following MultiChoice’s introduction of DStv Mobile. MultiChoice uses a rival European-developed technology to DMB called digital video broadcasting handheld, better known as DVB-H.  – Craig Wilson, TechCentral

 

 

MobileTV completes technical trials

This article was posted by Editor on Aug 16th, 2011 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry using RSS 2.0. You can also leave a comment below this article

 

Black-owned MobileTV, which hopes to launch a mobile television service in SA, has completed the technical tests using the Korean digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) in Gauteng, says founder and chairman Mothobi Mutloatse.

Last week, MobileTV completed both a technical report and an initial request to formalise its application for a permanent commercial licence in SA. The DMB standard is a rival to the digital video broadcasting handheld technology used by incumbent pay-TV operator MultiChoice, which launched DStv Mobile last year.

Mutloatse says MobileTV has around 10 Korean mobile device manufacturers and broadcasters backing the company’s bid. They’re providing training and logistical support, he says. MobileTV is seeking a broadcasting licence from the Independent Communications Authority of SA.

For the technical trial, VDL, a UK company, supplied MobileTV with field-measuring equipment to run trials using both 600W and 2 000W Harris transmitters.

The company wants to provide both digital mobile television and digital audio broadcasts to South Africans.  – Staff reporter, TechCentral

 


 

Article from IT Web : 17 August 2011

MobileTV has completed the technical tests of the Korean Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) standard in Gauteng.
The company announced in December that it was no longer interested in the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld) broadcasting format. 
It decided instead to adopt DMB technology, coupled with the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) format.
Founder and chairman of MobileTV Mothobi Mutloatse says the company has now handed in its two submissions – the technical report, as well as the initial request towards formalising its application for a permanent commercial licence throughout SA.
MobileTV – formerly known as the MobileTV Consortium – was given a non-commercial licence in September, by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), to test the technical abilities of DMB over a 12-month period.
The company said once testing was complete it would apply for a permanent licence from ICASA. It needed to produce a technical report stipulating the capabilities of DMB technology.
MobileTV is partnering with Sentech as a signal distributor and using DAB spectrum, which is already available at the state signal distributor's tower.
“We are more than ready to roll out the ubiquitous media revolution called DMB within two months of licensing.”
He says this is sure to introduce innovations of an interactive nature in both television and radio services, “turning the whole print and electronic media and advertising sectors alike on their heads”.
The DMB/DAB/DAB+ technology is widely used in over 40 countries, says Mutloatse.
He also says the company has more than 10 Korean mobile device manufacturers and broadcasters backing its bid, including skills development, training and logical support.
GM of Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Gu-Yeon Hwang is excited at the prospect of assisting MobileTV to launch DMB commercially in SA, says Mutloatse.
He adds that, in a joint statement signed by KBS, Insmobile, OTT, Coretrust and PKB World, the Korean nationals state: “We believe SA to be a strategic country in Africa, which will open a new chapter in the history of mobile broadcasting of DMB, and this will ultimately promote exchanges of very useful ICT between SA and South Korea as well.”
The chairman says MobileTV's application for a permanent DMB licence is supported by UK-based VDL, which supplied MobileTV with the field measuring equipment to complete the technical tests; and the International DMB Advancement Group (IDAG) in Norway, of which MobileTV is the only African member.
“The high acceptance level makes receivers cheaper and plentiful, and gives momentum to co-operation on services and business models across borders,” says IDAG president Gunnar Garfors.
Concilium Technologies, in Johannesburg, provided MobileTV with the Harris Broadcast Transmitters for the tests. It says the deployment of DMB in SA would generate a positive impact in several areas, including providing technical jobs for young adults looking for opportunities in the world of technology, and stimulating economic development.
MobileTV had initially applied for DVB-H spectrum from ICASA, but was denied, as it did not have a broadcasting licence, according to the regulator.
Ovum senior analyst Richard Hurst previously said it will be end-users who dictate which standard works better.
He adds that the key is going to be what the operators get out of it. “It's just the test phase now and we do need to go through that phase and see what the rest of the world is doing.”
A controversial invitation to apply from ICASA resulted in the authority granting high-frequency radio spectrum licences for mobile TV services in multiplex 1 to etv, with capacity of 40%, and MultiChoice, for capacity of 60%.

 

 

 


Mobile TV South Africa and DMB

 

The Mobile TV Consortium has been granted a licence to test the Korean standard for mobile television, digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB), in SA.

The consortium, controlled by businessman Richard Moloko’s Moloko Investment Group and backed by high-profile shareholders including former Telkom chairman Shirley Lue Arnold, says it expects to have a service ready for pilot in about a month.The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) barred the Mobile TV Consortium from participating in the first round of bidding for mobile television licences, awarded earlier this year, because it did not have a full broadcasting licence. MultiChoice and e.tv were granted licences in a first multiplex, or chunk of radio frequency spectrum used for broadcasting, after a controversial process that resulted in several other players dismissed from the race. However, in the next few years the regulator is expected to open the doors to another round of mobile TV licensing and Mobile TV Consortium chairman Mothobi Mutloatse says the organisation plans to be ready.

 

“We are preparing ourselves for when the authority opens the next multiplex for licensing because we are hoping it will be available to new entrants in the market,” says Mutloatse.

 

In the meantime, the authority has granted the consortium a 12-month licence to test DMB, which has been adopted by several European countries, including Italy, Germany and France. Mutloatse says the equipment to run the test will arrive in the next week, and the consortium must make the relevant plans with public signal distributor Sentech before the tests can start.However, he says it shouldn’t take longer than a month before a test service will be ready to go. The introduction of the new standard could darken an already muddy debate around digital television standards for terrestrial TV, which has been raging in SA in recent months.The SA broadcasting industry is on the verge of migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial television. However, two standards are competing to bring digital services to local TV sets — the DVB-T standard, developed in Europe and widely used across the world, and a Brazilian adaptation of a Japanese standard called ISDB-T.Both standards have mobile television versions, and the introduction of the Korean mobile standard may raise the hackles of the Brazilian representatives given the country’s pitch to draw SA into using ISDB is based on its mobile TV capabilities.However, Mutloatse says the Mobile TV Consortium is not getting involved in the mudslinging over which standard is best. “We were impressed with the technology and decided to bring a test to SA to provide choice to the market,” he says.

 

However, he says the Korean service is best suited to the SA climate and has a fully tested track record that can be aligned to the local market.According to Mutloatse, there are already 300 devices to choose from in Korea, all at reasonable price points.He says the interactivity was one of the primary reasons the consortium decided to test the standard. “It has enhanced digital radio services and the interactive television services are interesting.”

Korea has enjoyed an explosion in mobile television subscribers in the past three years. In 2008, subscribers grew 60% to 17,2m off the back of aggressive marketing for the Beijing Olympics. That grew to 22m by mid-2009.Despite the rapid growth, Korean broadcasters were forced to switch their go-to-market strategy because healthy subscriber numbers were not being converted to revenue.

 

Korean broadcasters initially relied on advertising to bring in the money. However, poor advertising sales meant they had to start charging subscriptions.

Mutloatse says SA can learn from Korea’s experience.  — Candice Jones, TechCentral

 

 

 

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Last Updated on 21 September 2011