Digital Television, Part II: Global status

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We already tried to make a bit of sense of the global digital television (DTV) salmagundi in Digital Television, Part 1: Making Sense of it all. Now, let's look at the DTV implementation status on a global scale affecting your living room TV and future, mobile handheld devices shall we? First, we should look at how DVB-T and DAB implementations are progressing globally since these are the underlying technologies for DVB-H and T-DMB respectively — thus giving us a hint, but by no means dictating future country selections for digital TV on mobile handheld devices.

First DVB-T (click the picture for a larger view):


And now DAB (click the picture for a larger view -- warning: PDF link):

DAB Coverage-2005

So based on these graphics, you can imagine Samsung, LG and the rest of the T-DMB camp all hunkered down in their red jerseys ready to battle Nokia and the ravenous DVB-H posse kitted-out in dark-blue. That makes MediaFLO skins then, though we shudder to think of the Qualcomm execs shirtless but we digress. It's easy to see why a standards war is a-brewin with western Europe equal parts red and blue i.e., both DAB and DVB-T services operational. Click on for more.

So let’s drill down country-by-country and look at how digital TV rollouts are progressing globally. The following tables aren’t exhaustive, but they do capture those furtherest along their DTV deployment path.

First, those countries who have adopted DVB-T:

DVB-T Countries

Service Launch

Analog Switch Off

Mobile Reception



2011 proposed — pay TV providers agree to 2007

Jul 2005 trial started in Sydney with Nokia, Telstra, and The Bridge Networks



2003 Flanders (Antwerp)

2005 Wallonia (Brussels)

2010 (at the latest)

DVB-H: none

T-DMB: none


(home of Nokia)

Oct 2002

Aug 2007

DVB-H: Mar-Jun 2005 trial conducted in Helsinki with Nokia, Sonera, Elisa, and Digita

T-DMB: none


Mar 2005 free-to-air, 2005/06 pay TV


DVB-H: Early 2005 trial conducted in Cannes with TDF and Nokia

Sep 2005 launches three trials in Paris with Nokia, SFR, France Telecom, Orange, TDF, TPS, and Canal all taking part in the action

T-DMB: Oct 2005 trial started in Paris with TF1, VDL, Samsung and Perstel


(home of 2006 FIFA World Cup)

Mar 2003

2010 (already started for some regions)

DVB-H: Sep 2005 trial started in Berlin with Microsoft, DFL, Bundesliga

T-DMB: Q1 2006 T-DMB trial starting in Regensburg


Jan 2006

2006 (start)

DVB-H: Starting in 2006 via Telecom Italia Mobile and Mediaset

T-DMB: testing or trials underway


Nov 2003

2004 (start)

2006 (complete)

DVB-H: Jul 2005 trial started in the Hague with Nokia, KPN, Digitenne, and Nozema Services

T-DMB: testing or trials underway


Nov 2005


DVB-H: Oct 2005 trial started in Madrid and Barcelona by Nokia, Abertis Telecom, and Telefonica Moviles

T-DMB: testing or trials underway


(home of Ericsson)

Sep 1999

2008 (already started in some regions)

DVB-H: none, er, maybe because Ericsson backs DMB.

T-DMB: none, which is strange since Nokia arch-rival, Ericsson backs DMB




DVB-H: Nov 2005 trial started in Bern with Nokia and Swisscom

T-DMB: none




DVB-H: Trials to start by Jan 2006 in Taipei with Nokia, CTS, CHT, and CMC Magnetics

T-DMB: none

United Kingdom

Nov 1998

2007 (start)

2012 (complete)

DVB-H: Sep 2005 trial started in Oxford with Nokia, O2, Arqiva, and Sony Semiconductors and Electronic Solutions

T-DMB: Jun 2005 trial started in London with BT, Virgin Mobile, and HTC

And now those pesky ATSC countries. The US and South Korea are furthest along here, with Canada and Mexico yet to set hard time lines for analog switch off let alone offering definitive plans for reception of DTV on mobile handsets.

While things look all rosy to us on the periphery, South Korea’s mobile DTV status is actually quite convoluted since their version of terrestrial DMB is (gasp) different from the more generic version developed within the world DAB forum. However, the two DAB variants are very similar and are expected to use the same device hardware. Also, South Korea is running both satellite DMB and terrestrial DMB services. S-DMB is nationwide operating at 2.6 GHz thus requiring heaps of terrestrial transmitter dishes scattered about cities in order to keep signals flowing around buildings and underground. As a bonus though, those higher frequencies mean very small antennas (which we love) on S-DMB mobile devices. T-DMB is operated as a regional service at the low, low 200 MHz frequency, thus requiring those big ol’ telescoping antennas we hate.

So ATSC countries look a little somethin’ like this:

ATSC Countries

Service Launch

Analog Switch Off

Mobile Reception

United States

Nov 1998

2009 (proposed)

DVB-H: Oct 2004 trial started in Pittsburgh with CrownCastle and Nokia

Q1 2006 Crown Castle's Modeo will begin delivering their commercial mobile TV service over Crown’s L-Band (1670-1675 MHz) owned frequencies covering the top 30 US markets by 2007

T-DMB: DAB-based DMB is the dark horse in The States with a shot of entering the race via XM’s satellite radio service (2.3 GHz) in partnership with DirectTV who announced in November plans to work with “an array of partners” to bring video to devices other than televisions.

MediaFLO: 2006 QUALCOMM and Verizon Wireless expect to launch mobile TV services over the MediaFLO network in approximately half of the 171 metro areas already covered by Verizon Wireless’ EV-DO-based broadband network

South Korea

(home of DMB)



DVB-H: no way, this is South Korea!

T-DMB: Dec 2005 terrestrial service launched by the country’s major cable news, radio and TV broadcasters

S-DMB: May 2005 satellite service launched by SK Telecom and TU Media

And just for kicks, let’s throw down the stats for Japan who have rolled out their proprietary ISDB-T solution yet are fervent supporters of T-DMB…outside of Japan anyway. Brazil is also considering ISDB-T after finding it superior to both DVB-T and ATSC for their needs.

ISDB-T Countries

Service Launch

Analog Switch Off

Mobile Reception




DVB-H: none

T-DMB: none

ISDB-T: Launched consumer service in Oct, 2004 dubbed MobaHO! (quit snickering)

Tomorrow, digital TV device pr0n!