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 (See the front page of The Korea Times, Feb. 7 edition).
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 world’s 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.