Fancy watching a TV show in your car when you are stuck in a traffic jam? The policeman and the man in the next vehicle may not love it, but you can do it. But perhaps it is wise not to get excited. What’s on offer, in the foreseeable future, are staid old Doordarshan shows.
The state broadcaster has started a pilot programme under which you can take out your DVB-H enabled cellphone and simply tune in to Doordarshan and its bouquet of channels. The catch is that only DD has terrestrial broadcast rights in India, and hence satellite TV channels are excluded. You cannot watch mobile TV when you are out of the terrestrial range.
Mobile TV is currently available in India using the DVB-H standard on Nokia N77 and N92 handsets, both of which are priced at Rs 21,000. While the N77 is a candy bar handset and the N92 a clamshell (flip and fold), both can bring TV right on your palm.
Based on terrestrial broadcast technology, DVB-H or Digital Video Broadcast - Handheld, is an evolution of the Digital Video Broadcast - Terrestrial, the technology that in India at present helps you receive Doordarshan on your TV set.
Both N77 and N92 have a 16 million colour screen, which basically is the best screen resolution one can have today. Apart from that, the N77 and N92 have 2.4 inch and 2.8 inch displays respectively, which are decent enough for a good viewing experience.
The battery life on both handsets lasts for up to 4 hours and the reception quality is crystal clear while you are in the range of a Doordarshan tower.
Other players like Qualcomm have their own terrestrial broadcast based technology for mobile TV known as Media Flo. While the technology has been on Verizon networks in the US for a while now, regulations over broadcast in India have prevented private players from entering the field.
Manufacturers like LG, Samsung and Motorola already sell MediaFlo-enabled handsets in the US.
Terrestrial broadcasting for handheld runs parallel to your cellular network and does not utilise its bandwidth. If you get a call while watching TV, the channel pauses and resumes itself once the call is through.
Other alternatives for watching TV on a mobile handset include live streaming of channel via the cellular network. But that is not here yet.