ITU ASIA : Mobile satellite broadcasting ready for launch

Companies in South Korea and Japan say they are ready to launch a new satellite broadcasting service in the next two months that can send video and audio directly to devices such as mobile telephones, handheld terminals and in-car receivers.

Prototype terminals for the service, which will be launched in South Korea by TU Media Corp. and in Japan by Mobile Broadcasting Co. (MBCO), were on show at the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Telecom Asia 2004 conference and exhibition here in Busan, South Korea, this week.

The services will broadcast from a satellite launched by the two companies earlier this year. Unlike existing satellite systems that require dish antennas, the service uses L-band frequencies, which are around 2.6GHz and close to those used by third-generation (3G) cellular services, so it can be received using an antenna built into a portable receiver.

TU Media is planning to broadcast a package of 14 video channels and 24 audio channels from November for a monthly charge of 13,000 won (US$11), said Cho Jin-Ho, manager of the company’s technology strategy team. The service also will include video files that can be downloaded into the memory of the terminal device and played on demand, he said.

Both Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and LG Electronics Inc. have produced prototype cellular telephones for the service, which were on show at the exhibition.

The Samsung SCH-B100 is a candy-bar form factor model and has viewing screen that swivels out from behind the telephone body to provide a landscape-oriented screen on which to watch TU Media’s TV offering. It can record up to two hours of video in MPEG4, has a 2-megapixel camera, MP3 player and QVGA resolution (240 pixels by 320 pixels) thin film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display(LCD).

The LG SB-100 is a clamshell handset with a square 2.4-inch LCD that offers 320 pixel by 320 pixel resolution. Because the screen is wider than a conventional mobile phone, it means the video can be watched in full QVGA resolution without having to turn the phone on its side to accommodate the image. It too can record TV programming and comes with a 1-megapixel camera.

Both telephones are expected out before the end of this year and TU Media is also planning to provide a handheld terminal and receiver system for cars, said Cho.

Japan’s MBCO will start its service in October and plans to offer seven video channels and 30 audio channels, said Yoshitake Yamaguchi, senior manager for MBCO’s satellite and coordination group. The service will cost between

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