I just read an interesting article by Peter Svensson on statesman.com. He is making the point that a Chinese Mobile device with a terrestrial TV tuner can tune in to TV in the US (albeit analog) for free, whereas US-sold phones can’t. Ironically, the TV chip in the Chinese device (by ZTE) is from a US company!
Peter also makes the case that it’s not just the Chinese that have access to F-T-A (“Free to Air”) channels on their Mobile devices:
That is one reason the United States is behind several other countries when it comes to making television an attractive option for cell phones. Carrier business models are partly at fault, but TV technology choices made long ago are largely to blame. Most phones sold in Japan can tune in to free TV broadcasts. Cell phones that can tune in to free broadcasts are also available in South Korea, Germany and China.
This is really a similar point to the one I was making here recently, in that (in Europe), a device that had a DVB-T (digital terrestrial) tuner could potentially capture and playback F-T-A DVB-T signals. Surprisingly, these devices do exist – take the Gigabyte t600 for example. Even more interestingly I have one of these, but frustratingly I can’t get it to work (i.e. receive TV). And that perhaps points to the one downside (at least in the UK) for this plan – which is that you need a strong, unobstructed signal to get a good reception. In fact, this is so much the case that people have to have new aerials fitted to their houses! So how is a Mobile device going to cope?!
But those are the details – imagine for a moment the thought of being able to grab a bunch of F-T-A channels on the move, and then imagine having 8-16Gb of solid-state memory that you could record that TV to – now we are really talking a simple, easy solution to Mobile TV, that only requires investment in to an area that is already heavily funded – the mobile device itself. I say again, that in principle, DVB-T has a lot to offer, with very little cost – but with little reward too, perhaps Operators are going to remain cautious for the foreseeable future.