3GSM IP Wireless has announced the successful end of its Bristol-based broadcast TV trial, which has been running for the last few months in conjunction with Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, and 3.
The trial demonstrated that 3G broadcasting won't interfere with existing 3G services, and that operators already own enough capacity for 14 TV channels each - capacity which is currently lying unused.
During the insanity of the 3G auctions, most operators bought Time Division Duplex (TDD) frequency blocks, but few have since found any use for them. As a result, the frequencies lie unused and empty.
Multimedia Broadcast & Multicast Services (MBMS) is part of the 3G standard and allows the same data to be sent to all subscribers within a cell, or within an entire network.
Using MBMS, within the unused TDD frequency blocks, network operators can send out 14 channels of video (at 300Kb/sec each) without needing additional licenses or building new cell sites. Additional hardware is needed at about a third of current sites to provide universal coverage, costing about £10,000 per site, but that is minor compared to the expense of licensing and building a new network infrastructure.
The trial confirmed that overlapping cells enhanced rather than interfered with signal quality and there was no conflict with existing services. Tests on a motorway showed that even at high-speed the service worked seamlessly, though one hopes the driver wasn't watching.
What it didn't attempt to establish was if any customers wanted mobile TV on the motorway or anywhere else, though IP Wireless was quick to point out that the data streams could be used for anything if the mobile TV market turns out to be less profitable than hoped. ®