KOREA: Vatican adopts Korean mobile TV platform

Vatican Radio starts using Korean terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting platform for its cell phone-based TV services

The Korea Times
Sunday, July 22, 2007

By Kim Tae-gyu

The Vatican has decided to embrace a Korean mobile TV platform, dubbed terrestrial digital multimedia broadcasting (T-DMB), as its standard for cell phone-based TV services.

The Ministry of Information and Communications said Friday that Vatican Radio started the pilot run of T-DMB this week across the city state.

T-DMB enables people on the road to enjoy seamless video, CD-quality audio and data through in-car terminals or handheld devices such as cellular phones.

"With an encoder offered by us, Vatican Radio launched a test run of T-DMB. The radio station is to embark on full-fledged services in October," ministry official Lee Jung-gu said.

"We are upbeat because the voices and images of the Pope are delivered via our technologies. We hope this will give momentum to T-DMB," Lee said.

Korea has gone all-out to encourage the Vatican to adopt T-DMB. President Roh Moo-hyun presented 100 T-DMB-enabled terminals in February when he visited the world's smallest independent nation.

The Vatican also has a reason to deploy T-DMB instead of DVB-H, developed by the worldĄŻs top cell phone producer Nokia. The two are now competing to become the mainstream platform for European mobile broadcasting.

"In Europe, nations already have the infrastructure including the Vatican for T-DMB as their well-established digital audio systems can be easily converted for T-DMB," Lee said.

"By contrast, they have to shell out big bucks to build up networks for DVB-H. We hope T-DMB will take a driver's seat on the back of this plus," he said.

Indeed, Italian public broadcaster RAI opted for T-DMB rather than DVB-H for its video-on-the-move services because of such an advantage of the former.

Stefano Ciccotti, chief executive of network provider RAIWay as a subsidiary of RAI, articulated the competitiveness of T-DMB in Europe at a recent interview with a local newspaper.

He said a nationwide DVB-H network in Italy would have cost 300 million euros ($414 million) but extending the existing T-DMB network in the country would cost just 8 million euros ($11 million).

RAIWay plans to start commercial T-DMB services next month with the aim of expanding coverage to more than half of Italy later this year.

Currently, 11 nations across the world have begun commercial T-DMB services and 11 other countries are testing the go-anywhere TV platform.