Huawei to pilot mobile TV software with PCCW

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 May, 2006, 12:00am

Chinese firm in talks with European and Asian operators on licensing technology

Huawei Technologies, China largest telecommunications equipment vendor, is hoping to win a share of the 10 million mobile television handsets market this year by piloting its proprietary mobile television technology with PCCW.

By first licensing what is called the cell multimedia broadcast (CMB) technology to PCCW Mobile, Huawei is taking on leading wireless vendors such as Nokia by showcasing its own 3G network-based technology that it hopes can potentially challenge other mobile television standards such as DVB-H (digital video broadcasting hand-held) - a standard expected to dominate Europe and the US whose worldwide trials are spearheaded by the Finnish giant.

A senior executive at Huawei's wireless division said it was talking with European and Asian mobile operators about licensing to them the CMB technology, for which it is also seeking patents overseas.

'We are also talking with one-third of the leading worldwide handset makers to license them our CMB software,' the executive said, but refused to be more specific.

Huawei has built 28 3G networks worldwide based on UMTS, with operators such as Vodafone in the Czech Republic, Etisalat in the Middle East, the Netherland's KPN and Indonesia's Natrindo Telepon Selular. PCCW Mobile is the only Hong Kong mobile operator using Huawei.

'We are confident about our push of CMB worldwide. Thus far, Asian mobile operators have shown stronger interest,' the executive said.

PCCW chief financial officer Alex Arena said because CMB involved just a network upgrade, it could be done at a much lower cost than using DVB-H - a broadcasting standard that needs a completely new spectrum and tailor-made handsets equipped with an antenna to receive the signals from a broadcasting tower.

'Deployment throughout Hong Kong will be completed by the end of next month,' said Mr Arena. The service will first be offered on a trial basis to the 110,000 PCCW Mobile customers who are using a free Huawei 3G handset to watch video clips and make voice calls on its network.

The Huawei executive said it hoped to use competitive pricing levels to lure handset vendors to adopt CMB to make it a worldwide industry standard one day. Last year, the private company said it had global contract sales of US$8.2 billion, up 40 per cent from a year ago, driven in part by wireless networks. More than half of the total was from sales to overseas markets.

However, Merrill Lynch analyst Sandeep Malhotra said the CMB standard could not support as many customers as terrestrial standard DVB-H, which picks up signals directly from the air and would not clog up the mobile network as CMB would. He added that Huawei would meet tough competition from other terrestrial standards such as DVB-H.

'Based on our own data, DVB-H and the Korean terrestrial standard, digital multimedia broadcasting, will be ahead of other 3G network-based technologies such as CMB,' noting that DVB-H had gained a lead with the vast number of trials in Europe and Asia.