The future of digital terrestrial lies in mobile broadcast extending services to portable devices both in the home and on the road. This point has often been lost amid all the anguished debate among the world’s broadcasters over how to defend their spectrum against marauding cellular operators. Not surprisingly, given the failure of most mobile broadcast services so far, the terrestrial transmission community has been reluctant to promote the great advantages it can offer over unicast cellular networks for delivering popular content.
But that is all changing now, as a second generation of mobile broadcast services emerges, spearheaded by the DVB’s Next Generation Handheld (NGH) standard, announced at the end of October 2012. This is the sequel to the DVB’s ill-fated first-generation mobile broadcast standard, DVB-H, which has been abandoned by almost all broadcasters that had, mostly in Europe, deployed it in trials and commercial services.
Yet this failure was largely because DVB-H, while being far from perfect technically, was ahead of its time, before suitable business models had evolved and before there was much support from device makers. User demand failed to materialize, partly because there were too few handsets capable of displaying video in sufficient quality. The fact that DVB-H required new infrastructure also restricted deployment, as did disagreements between operators and broadcasters over which of them should own the service.