• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 2:06am
NewsHong Kong

Picture quality might be an issue for HKTV

Experts also question whether people will buy special receivers just to watch its programmes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 December, 2013, 4:51am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 December, 2013, 4:51am

Telecommunication veterans have questioned whether Ricky Wong Wai-kay's internet television service will be able to match the picture quality of conventional free-to-air broadcasts.

Two months after the government rejected the bid by Wong's Hong Kong Television Network for a free-to-air TV licence, the station announced plans to launch internet and mobile services next July.

According to HKTV's announcement, three to five channels will be broadcast live and viewers will be able to watch them on the internet or their mobile devices.

The internet system works on any device that can browse the web, while the mobile system requires no internet connection but needs a special receiver to be plugged into television sets or mobile devices.

HKTV has yet to announce the video quality of mobile broadcasts. But China Mobile Hong Kong, which has been acquired by HKTV, has adopted a standard called China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting (CMMB).

It broadcasts programmes at a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels for its existing station UTV, equivalent to the video quality option of 240p on YouTube, said Francis Fong Po-kiu, president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation.

It is far from the best quality, as YouTube allows high-definition videos of up to 1920 x 1080 pixels, the 1080p option. TVB and ATV also provide high-definition channels.

"Can CMMB support higher video quality? Or would HKTV shift to another standard? Those are the big questions," Fong said.

It remains to be seen whether local households will be willing to buy receivers just to watch HKTV. For those who choose to tune in via the internet, the questions would concern service stability and price, IT-sector lawmaker Charles Mok said.

An HKTV spokeswoman said the station had not decided whether to adopt CMMB and was still working on the technical aspects of broadcasting.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung said HKTV's mobile-TV plans had little to do with boosting its chances to get a free-to-air licence later.

"I think there are two separate issues here," he said. "What I am most interested in is to have more choices for the people of Hong Kong and quality programmes for people to choose from. If any of this new technology will bring a very vibrant scene to Hong Kong, personally I welcome that notion and am very excited."

Professor Anthony Fung Ying-him, director of Chinese University's school of journalism and communication, said existing technologies for mobile TV allowed broadcasting in quality high enough for television sets.

"The bigger concern is whether it will be profitable to run mobile TV in a market as small as Hong Kong," he said, adding that advertisers spent much more on conventional television than on new media.


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This article is now closed to comments

or let say, would goverment allow HKTV to use DMB-T/H standard for boardcast? since even current all TV set or set top box could receive the signal without any change or add on device...
The bottom neck is the signal strenghth, not depends on the system.
CMMB using STiMi which able to carry 2.046Mbps ~ 16.243Mbps, which means it is able to support HD resolution video & audio data rate.
CMMB delivery broadcast services by using OFDM, which is more suitable for handhelp device. Since it lowers battery power consumption and improves robustness in the very difficult receptioon environments of indoor and outdoor portable use in devices with built-in antennas.
General speaking the stenght part of CMMB is the weakness of DMB-T/H, the stenght part of DMB-T/H is the weakness of CMMB.
I guess the current network coverage could only support 200kbit/s data rate, that why the resolution is limited to CIF resolution.
Yeah I also question this decision. I personally think delivering over a mobile app via the Internet is a far better option, especially if this CMMB standard can only deliver 320 x 240 which is barely Video CD quality.

I've had no problems streaming higher resolution content than that over 3g, and with 4g I was able to stream 720p.
Maybe Ricky Wong should consider streaming over the CMMB standard which requires the dongle and also via a more conventional mobile app over the Internet and let users decide what they prefer. Adding Internet streaming in addition to the 3G CMMB streaming would not increase costs significantly more. Furthermore, for home based broadband, HKTV can stream at 720p and even 1080p.


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