With subscription and pay-per-view revenues, and their protection, uppermost in everybody’s minds, it’s no surprise that content security companies are always at the cutting edge of emerging technologies.

Broadcasting to mobile is no exception and content-protector Irdeto defines the two dominant technologies thus:

• DVB-H

DVB-H (handheld) is a global standard based on existing DVB-T technology and broadcasting over DTT frequencies. It specifies additional features to support handheld/mobile receivers. This network technology provides approximately 8 Mb/sec of constant capacity per user and requires considerably less expensive basestation installations than traditional GSM /3G installations. It can deliver content in broadcast mode using IP Datacasting (IPDC). It is emerging as one of the major standards for mobile video broadcast with trials currently underway worldwide.

• T-DMB & S-DMB

Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) is a video and audio broadcasting technology originating from South Korea that provides broadcast services to portable devices and mobile phones via satellite (S) or terrestrial (T) transmitters. It is based on the Eureka-147 Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) standard, but adds capacity for video (normally MPEG 4) and text broadcasting.

In the case of South Korea’s TU Media Corp., the first company to launch a secure commercial S-DMB service, an S-band satellite is used to broadcast to handheld devices, and terrestrial gap-filling equipment provides coverage for high-density building environments.

And findings from an October 2006 reports, compiled by TU Media, makes for extremely interesting reading. There are 30 million Internet users and 40 million mobile phone users in South Korea. Consumption of mobile TV is currently running at over 2.4million viewers, comprising TU Media’s 1 million paid subscribers, and 1.4 million T-DMB users. With more than 80% of new mobile phones expected to have a mobile TV function, there is significant potential for growth from an already strong base. Findings show that WBC baseball, Korea’s most popular sport, is watched more via Internet and Mobile TV than via conventional TV. And to illustrate the broader multi-platform picture, a show like BVITV-distributed Desperate Housewives is currently available on 7 different media platforms including free-to-air, pay TV and TU’s satellite DMB service.

Demographic findings show 65% of S-DMB viewers to be male, with 72% of viewers falling within the 20-30 year age group. Topping the popularity stakes in terms of programming are homegrown drama channels from SBS and MBC. Games and Korean music come next and while the sports video channel shows a low average view rate, it becomes the most watched channel during major baseball and soccer events. Daily average usage is 59.8 minutes per day, with viewing proving pretty constant throughout the day – compared to morning and evening primetimes on ‘traditional’ TV. And 73% of viewers admit to being passive users, to relax, entertain or simply pass the time.

Case Study – TU Media

The South Korean TU Media Corp. was established in December 2003 to effectively meet the challenges of mobile broadcasting and to encourage cooperation between industry players. Shareholders include players from all parts of the service’s value chain, including mobile operators, network operators, device manufacturers, equipment vendors and content providers. TU Media is responsible for operating the broadcasting platform and aggregating the content.

SK Telecom, a primary shareholder in TU Media, developed their S-DMB service, combining telecommunications and broadcast TV. The commercial service was launched in South Korea in May 2005.

The DMB signal is delivered to mobile devices via a  satellite, supplemented by terrestrial gap fillers to cover shadow’ areas. End-users can access multichannel, multimedia broadcasting on personal and portable devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and in-car devices. DMB is a more appropriate broadcasting technology for audio and video content in a mobile environment than 3G. It uses a suitable frequency spectrum (S-Band) for transmission in order to ensure quality and optimum signal reception. The technology also overcomes coverage, relative speed and cell handover issues experienced with traditional mobile networks.

To provide the world’s first S-DMB content protection system for TU Media, Irdeto developed a new conditional access system (CAS) optimized for mobile broadcasting. It is based on Irdeto’s Digital TV system. To meet the highly constrained bandwidth requirements of the DMB environment, Irdeto also had to develop new technologies such as Dual Key Hierarchy and Rapid Entitlement Refresh.

Today TU Media service offers customers 11 video channels (including one pay-per-view channel and one free-to-air promotional channel) and 16 audio channels. To access the service, subscribers have the choice among more than 30 different devices including mobile phones, PDAs, PMPs, in-car devices, laptops and USB keys. All have integrated Irdeto solution in order to access the pay service.

After one year of operation, the total number of subscribers to TU Media S-DMB services exceeded half a million and by end of 2006, it topped the 1-million mark. This represents on average 1,500 new subscribers per day. The entrance fee is approximately US$20 on top of the monthly subscription fee of US$13. TU Media will continue to invest in the broadcast network and gap fillers in order to reduce shadow areas and expand coverage in subways and trains. Irdeto, in addition to its CA for S-DMB, has also developed solutions to support DVB-H and T-DMB broadcasting networks.