A technology that will allow mobile operators to deliver large volumes of live TV over their existing 3G wireless spectrum has been developed by a small start-up company, News.com reported.
IPWireless, manufacturers of chips and wireless equipment for the cellular industry, developed the technology, called TDtv. It provides enough capacity over the existing 3G spectrum so that mobile carriers won’t have to rely on separate bandwidth-hogging overlay networks to carry live TV programming.
Though mobile operators have spent billions of dollars over the last few years building new 3G wireless networks in order to deliver new services, those networks are not equipped to handle high volumes of live TV signals.
A report by News.com said that 3G wireless networks are designed for unicast, which means signals are transmitted between a single sender and a single receiver. The same content has to be retransmitted over the network every time a different user wants to view it, consuming bandwidth with each transmission.
Qualcomm, through its MediaFlo subsidiary, and Crown Castle International, through its Modeo division, are building broadcast overlay networks to the 3G network. They plan to sell wholesale capacity on their network to cell phone carriers who want to carry live TV programming.
IPWireless has taken a different approach. Instead of the overlay network, it has adapted the standardized Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) TD-CDMA technology, which provides high-speed wireless access for laptops and other Internet devices, so it transmits wireless signals in multicast instead of unicast.
To take advantage of the new TDtv technology, operators will have to upgrade cell towers with additional radios. When upgraded, the video using the TDtv technology will be comparable to what MediaFlo and Modeo promise. They estimate it will be able to deliver up to 50 channels of TV for standard mobile phones, or about 15 high-quality channels over 5MHz of unpaired 3G spectrum.
IPMobile in Japan has announced plans to test TDtv, while it’s expected that Sprint Nextel will soon join them.