dd-logoAfter around two years of, well, testing, Doordarshan is getting serious about its Mobile TV plans. The public sector broadcaster which enjoys exclusivity over terrestrial broadcasting in India, has put out a tender (Expression of Interest) for hiring a consultant for developing a public-private-partnership (PPP) model for digital broadcasting services. India is yet to finalize its Mobile TV policy. 

Complete Digitizalition By 2017; HDTV

DD currently has about 1400 Analog TV transmitters, with a single TV being broadcast in service in 7 or 8 MHz bandwidth. The broadcaster has been given the mandate of complete digitalization of its terrestrial infrastructure by 2017, and cover the metro cities by 2010. This push for Mobile TV is keeping in mind the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which will be held between 3rd and 14th October in Delhi. The four metro cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai will also get HDTV Terrestrial transmission by 2010.

Timeline

12.06.2009: Pre Bid Conference at 1100 hrs IST at Doordarshan Bhavan
12.08.2009: Last date for submission of offer document, by 1600hrs IST
13.08.2009: Offers are opened at 1500hrs

Public Private Partnership

Doordarshan is seeking inputs on both both DVB-H for mobile and DVB-T for digital terrestrial broadcasting, but the focus appears to be largely on DVB-H: Doordarshan seeks to retain control over the DVB-H trasmission service, and offer partners control over a majority of the transmitted channels on a revenue sharing basis. The prospective private broadcaster will have to invest on capital expenditure on transmitter, antenna and allied equipments, while DD will provide infrastructure. The job of the consultant will be to help identify a business model for the partnership, the required investment from the private partner, and identify potential revenue from the service and how it will be split between the private partner and DD.

Update: Please note that DVB-H is a broadcast technology, different from TV over mobile networks, which Telecom operators currently provide.

Tentative Rollout Plans

Doordarshan has proposed the following rollout plan for its Mobile TV services. These plans are likely to be changed, depending on the suggestions of the consultants:

— Phase I: Doordarshan proposes to provide 16 channels, of which 4 will be retained, and the remaining 12 may be provided to a private partner on a revenue sharing basis. In Phase I, the DVB-H Service will be expanded to the NCR region (Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida), and introduced in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata, where Digital Terrestrial Transmitters are already available. commonwealthgamesUplink will be from the same cities, and the private partner will be responsible for The private partner will be responsible for content aggregation, marketing, operation and maintenance of the expanded network in metro cities. This phase is likely to be completed by the Commonwealth Games.

— Phase II: Once the service becomes popular in metro cities, DD will again look at the partnership model for other cities – DVB-H transmitters along with Head ends will be installed at 17 state Capitals (including 4 metro cities) for statewise DVB-H bouquets of channels. DVB-H is proposed to be launched in 13 major cities with a population of over 1 million: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubhaneshwar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jullandhar, Lucknow, Patna, Shimla, Jammu and Thiruvananthapuram. These cities already have analog TV transmission infrastructure, which will be upgraded for DVB-H.

— Phase III to V: DD will target 96 cities in Phase III, where analog HPT TV Transmission facilities are available. In Phase IV, the broadcaster will set up 100 new high power DTT TV Transmitters. In Phase V, once all the DTT HPTs are installed at 230 proposed locations, the installation of Digital Low power trasmitters will be taken up in locations where high power transmitters are not economically viable. Around 400 DTT LPTs are planned.

Our Take

The public private partnership is a pragmatic approach to Mobile TV. DD may enjoy maximum reach, but consumers are not likely to pay for only DD channels on their Mobile. We’d like DD to take the free to air approach that it has adopted for most of its services – that will be significant competition for the Mobile TV services that telecom operators are looking to offer via their GSM or CDMA networks.

The one key issue that DD has not addressed is that of receivers: an entire ecosystem will have to crop up to enable consumers to receive the DVB-H signals on their laptops, cars etc. Mobile handsets will be a key challenge, and we’ll discuss that in detail shortly.

Download: DD’s Expression of Interest Document (2.2. MB, Zipped PDF…took us hours to locate)

Related:

— PatentWatch: Mobile TV Receiving Device From Samsung Electronics
At ContentSutra:
— TRAI Recommends Infrastructure Sharing, Separate Licenses For Terrestrial And Satellite Mobile TV
— When Mobile And TV Combine
— Zee Moots Concept Of Universal Broadcaster For Mobile TV In India; Wants MediaFLO Barred