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Summary
A short non-technical summary of the overall project.

With a few international sports events selected as incubators, mobile television is expected to reach millions of users worldwide during the next five years. After successful introduction of the T-DMB standard in Korea during 2005, similar services based on T-DMB and the DVB-H system have been tested during the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, and will be available in major German cities in time for the 2006 Soccer Worldcup. Both systems are likely to be introduced and used throughout Europe on a large scale soon. At the moment, at least five similar but different and incompatible systems for mobile television (T-DMB, DVB-H, DTMB, MediaFLO and ISDB-T) exist and are being pushed for political rather than technical reasons (see Figure 2), but the upcoming generation of multiprotocol receiver chipsets is expected to handle all those standards.

With over 300 million mobile phone users today, China is already the largest single market for digital communication. Recent survey data published by the FP6-funded project PHENIX confirms a further increase and predicts a large market for mobile services including mobile television in China. While DVB-H is to be tested during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China is set to develop its own standard for mobile television, where the recently announced DTMB standard is built on the system developed at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Given the size of the Chinese market, a timely cooperation with Chinese academics and companies based on DTMB is likely to provide economic benefit for European companies willing to operate on a worldwide scale.

Naturally, the acceptance of mobile TV is closely related to the availability of attractive devices, where the necessary compromise between screen size, weight, and battery life poses interesting design challenges and opportunities for device vendors. On one end of the scale, smart phones with built-in TV receivers are an obvious development, and are already being introduced into the market. Slightly more bulky, but also with larger screens, PDAs, mobile gaming devices, and mobile DVD players provide an interesting basis for mobile television. Finally, vendors will start to integrate mobile TV receivers into notebook computers. Most of those devices will be based on multiprotocol chipsets and support all four mobile TV standards. With sales volumes of mobile phones and computers combined, hundreds of millions of people will be able to watch mobile TV within the next few years.

All of these users will expect the same user-friendly operation they are accustomed to from their current stationary television receivers—you just turn the TV set on and watch the show. More specifically, users will expect the same seamless handover between network cells provided by different broadcast operators, including the handover between different types of networks like switching from DVB-H to DTMB and back during a single service reception.

For example, a user watching a sports event during a bus ride will certainly not want to manually switch channels or to repeat a login, just because the bus left the coverage of a single transmitter. Instead, the mobile device will have to negotiate a seamless handover between different cells, and even between different networks. On the other hand, users will probably like their device to automatically select the best quality video when multiple networks are in reach (e.g. UMTS, DTMB, DVB-H).

The perceived user experience, and the commercial success, of mobile television will largely be based on the ease of use of the overall system, not on technical details like the modulation scheme or signal-to-noise ratios. The goal of the MING-T project is to study and develop the network infrastructure required to provide a great user experience for mobile television. As this involves the question of interoperability between different networks and their software, we call this the network convergence.

Image

Figure 1, the MING-T “Universe”, illustrates this situation from the point of view of the terminals, the network operators and the service providers. It gives an overview of the far scope of MING-T and beyond. In this vision, three different types of networks are considered. First of all, and similar to analog television, there are the broadcast-type networks used for the digital TV standards including T-DMB, DVB-H, DTMB, MediaFLO and ISDB-T. Second, video and television content can also be transmitted via telecommunication networks like UMTS. Typically, the telecommunication networks will also provide the uplink channel including status information and interactive functions when the main media download is via a broadcast network. Third, clients can access multimedia content via a direct internet connection, including WiFi/WiMAX. Such connections also provide an attractive solution for indoor reception.

Next, the seamless handover between the different variants of the broadcast networks will be considered. Users will expect to use their devices abroad, irrespective of the particular broadcast technique used in different countries or different parts of the same country. For example, both T-DMB and DVB-H transmissions will be used during the upcoming 2006 soccer Worldcup in Germany, and both DVB-H and DMB-T will be available during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Multiprotocol receivers provide the obvious solution on the client side, but interoperability on the network and transmitter side is as important, and no clear solutions exist today.

 

MING-T Objectives:

  • Develop an architecture that can provide seamless access in converged digital broadcasting and mobile communications networks, especially the seamless handover between different broadcast technologies.

  • Incorporate both DVB-H and DTMB into the multi-standard framework.

  • Apply advanced scalable coding techniques for the services in the converged digital broadcasting and mobile communications networks environment.

  • Construct prototypes, simulations and field trials to validate the usability of the technologies developed.

 

MING-T will focus mainly on the mobility of the multi-standard terminals in the converged digital broadcasting and mobile communications networks. The use of scalable coding techniques in the converged networks environment will also be studied. The solutions available today are not suitable for implementing these objectives at least due to the following weaknesses:

  • There are no validated solutions for mobility in both multi-standard broadcasting networks and converged digital broadcasting and mobile communications networks.

  • The Chinese broadcasting standard DTMB is not incorporated yet into a multi-standard terminal where other broadcasting standards like DVB-H and T-DMB are already available.

  • No complete scalable coding solutions are available for the converged digital broadcasting and mobile communications networks.

  • The incorporation of the Chinese standard DTMB into the multi-standard terminal enables user mobility through multi broadcasting technologies across different parts of a country and different countries around the world.


Milestones:

  • Working in close relation with ITU, ETSI and the DVB Project, the MING-T consortium will develop the architecture, protocols and algorithms required for network convergence and interoperability. The results will be validated through prototyping, experimental lab testing and two live field trials. The main project milestones are listed below:

  • Identification of the reference network scenario (addressed access technologies, involved business entities and relationships among them, etc.) and detailed definition of requirements of the target mobility service.

  • Design of the initial system architecture, which will be mainly focused on the middleware design, a scalable coding implementation and the mobility solutions within the different broadcasting and mobile communication technologies using a multi-standard terminal.

  • Definition of goal and design principles for the design of the final system architecture, which will include a complete description of all the functional elements and logical interfaces, based on the outcomes of the research activities carried out during the project lifetime.

  • Field tests in both Europe and China to verify the overall system architecture and initial implementation. The test in Europe, based on the existing infrastructure of the prospective subcontractor DigiLab, will validate the scalable coding and middleware developed in the project. The field trials in Beijing will concentrate on the interoperability and handover between DMB-T and DVB-H.

  • Evaluation of the tests, validation of results, and final reports.


 

 

 
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