Korean companies gung ho on digital multimedia broadcasting

MUMBAI: Want a digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) service delivered on your mobile phone? Several Korean companies have launched this service via the terrestrial or satellite route.

TU Media is bullish and expects to rope in 6.6 million DMB subscribers by 2010, driven by affordable service rate plans and content. Currently, it has 437,000 subscribers.

The company displayed its wide array of products at the TV Korea Showcase 2006, held in Mumbai today. Among the other participants were companies like Seoul Broadcasting System (CBS), Alticast and Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).

The Korean companies expressed their intent to play a major role in expanding mobile broadcasting in India. A good geographical location makes India a suitable market for satellite DMB. Besides, India's configuration of ground is generally flat, implying that there are less shadow areas.

Speaking on the occasion, Alticast vice president Eun Sang Yun elaborated on the change in market demand for interactive TV service in Korea. "We are seeing on-demand type of services across the media markets. Also, there is a strong demand of interactivity in the mobile environment," Yun said.

While the cost of technical solutions has come down, Korea has adopted open standard solutions. This is easy to deploy, raises the quality of service, lowers costs for interactive TV solutions, and sets up a route for export. "This model can be adopted to the Indian market," Yun said.

There are interesting statistics for DMB subscribers. TU, which has funded $200 million till October 2005, has found that male viewers comprise 66 per cent of the base while 72 per cent of the audience is in the age group of 20 years to early 30s. Drama, game, news and movies are very popular. Sporting events like football have a very high viewership. The average usage per day is one hour with watching on mobile TV dominating the daytime. There is a trend for viewership to drop on the weekends which is controlled by conventional TV.

TU charges a registration fee of $20 million and a monthly subscription rate of $13 million. The satellite DMB capabilities allow you to view high definition broadcasts while on the move via a frequency transmitted from the satellite to your vehicle-mounted TU terminal and your TU handset that receives both satellite DMB and cellular services. It also offers a broad range of interactive multimedia services that let you directly participate in such broadcast programmes as wireless internet, home shopping, and M-commerce.

The TU handset for both satellite DMB and cellular service does not offer only mobile phone functions, but it also provides a wireless internet connection function, and an on-air broadcast programme capture and recording function.

The portable receiver for DMB services is equipped with a multimedia file reproduction function, as well as a capture and recording function. It carries a built in antenna receiving signals from terrestrial repeaters and provides a removable antenna receiving signals from satellite.

TU Media plans to invest a total of $6.68 million in the content area over the next five years. It offers 11 video and 26 audio channels.

SBS, the biggest private terrestrial broadcasting company in Korea, has developed various digital broadcasting technologies including digital multimedia broadcasting radio model.

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