How Mobile TV Technology Works

By: Nat Jay

Mobile TV has been around since 2002, but it was the demo for the Nokia N92 handheld in 2005 that brought the idea into the mainstream.

BBC was one of a handful of channels broadcasted during that demo, and while the idea itself was a natural evolution of market expectations, it was also, expectedly, a revolution for the cell phone industry.

The Nokia N92 could beam full motion video at 30 frames / second, and supported about 4 hours of TV viewing on one charge. It basically had the equivalent of a TV tuner built into it that captured signals from compatible TV channels and stations.

The fundamental premise of a cell phone is that it works by picking up compatible radio signals. The idea was to build a cell phone that could pick up signals in the frequency range of those allotted for broadcast televisions (VHF, UHF, etc.), hence making the concept of watching TV on your handheld a reality.

There were challenges to this, the biggest being that of transmission speeds. Typical television broadcasting requires fast transmission speeds -- speeds much higher than what most of the current generation (2G) phones are capable of handling.

That's where 3G technology comes in, offering broadband internet access to cell phones and handheld devices at speeds ranging from 144 kbps to a blazing 2 MBPS. (That's the kind of speed you get over the cable and DSL lines connected to your computer, and makes streaming audio/video from Web 2.0 sites possible.)

In terms of hardware, Korean companies have been the traditional front runners in implementing most of what Mobile TV technology is today. Two of their early implementations can be found in the form of the Samsung SCH-B250 and the LG V9000 phones -- both of which were launched in 2006.

Currently, Mobile TV is a developing technology, and service providers like mobiTV, Sprint TV, Vodafone and others are beefing up their systems to handle this significant demand.

There was a time when watching even videos stored on your mobile at decent frame rates and quality seemed like a big thing. But with advancements in processor / memory technology and service throughput standards, Mobile TV is now the thing -- alongside WiFi Internet Phones.

You may have a satellite TV in your living room, but mobile TV is like have a satellite system right in your phone! -- The future of mobile entertainment, playing live in the palm of your hands.

Phones
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