Dubai conducts its own mobile TV trial

A partnership including TECOM Investments, du, Dubai Media Inc and Emirates Media Inc is assessing the technical and commercial viability of mobile TV services based on DVB-H.

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By  Administrator Published  September 9, 2007

As part of its efforts to check the technical and commercial viability of Digital Video Broadcasting on Handhelds (DVB-H) in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai Media City (DMC) is testing the technology in Dubai.

The US $2 million project, which is claimed to be the second major DVB-H trial in the Middle East after Qatar, was awarded to Rohde & Schwarz (R&S), and went on air officially on June 1, 2007.

DMC distributed 500 Nokia handsets (models N92 & N77) among 500 individuals of different nationalities, backgrounds, and age groups in Dubai to trial the technology. At the end of the trial, DMC will conclude whether the service will be commercially viable. "The objective of this trial is to study the technical and commercial feasibility of DVB-H services and prepare the ground for its commercial roll out," says Amina Al Rustamani, executive director of Media, TECOM Investments.

"The trial is also aimed at identifying the content and channel choices of the users along with timings and location preference. Further advanced analysis will conclude in-depth opportunities for creating refined and customised packages for Mobile TV users."

DMC has partnered with the UAE's second telecom operator, du, as well as the country's state-owned broadcast giants, Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) and Emirates Media Incorporated (EMI) to introduce DVB-H services in the UAE.

The commercial trial licensed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) began in June this year. A new DVB-H SFN (single frequency network consisting of three transmission sites) has been deployed with the support of R&S, Nokia and T-Systems, a division of Deutsche Telekom.

"This was a turnkey project," explains Viswanathan Skandakkumar, regional broadcast manager, R&S Emirates LLC. "It included the supply & installation of a DVB-H transmitter and an antenna at the Dubai World Trade Centre and a playout centre at Samacom Teleport. We also did the network planning, system integration and field strength studies."

The second phase included the installation of two additional DVB-H transmitters - one at Shatha tower near Dubai Media City and one at Umm Sequim Broadcast station.

These transmitters will boost DMC's coverage within Dubai. There are plans for future expansion with additional transmitters to achieve 100% coverage within Dubai.

"In the first two months, the technical evaluation on the system, handsets and the signal coverage was completed," explains Skandakkumar.

At present, DMC is transmitting 12 channels through its DVB-H network and provides a fairly extensive portable outdoor coverage within Dubai. However, Skandakkumar says DMC will need several additional transmitters in selected locations as well as on-channel repeaters in major shopping malls to ensure wider coverage should it decide to provide it as a commercial service.

"Right now, there is a reasonable portable outdoor coverage from Deira to Jebel Ali with three DVB-H transmitters in operation," Skandakkumar says. "However, for indoor coverage, especially within shopping malls, DMC will need indoor on-channel low power repeaters.

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