World Cup fans score on-the-go with Microtune's tuner technology

10th July 2006
ES Admin
Microtune's tuner technology was built into a variety of products that enabled avid fans of the World Cup to watch their favorite team on-the-go­ from mobile TV phones, in cars and on laptops. By providing the core technology that lets consumer devices receive live digital TV broadcasts, Microtune is helping usher in the era of mobile TV - one that was "kick"-started by the 2006 World Cup event.
“Fans were able to watch the 2006 World Cup matches from a myriad of new media options, choices that were not available during the last competition,” stated James A. Fontaine, Microtune, Inc. President and CEO. “High-definition TV broadcasts, web TV, and downloadable clips reflect some of the dramatic new consumer TV options, but even more exciting, fans could now watch live coverage of the games on-the-move or on-the-road through Microtune-enabled technology. New broadcast services and portable consumer devices delivered TV-to-go for anytime TV viewing, and we are pleased that our tuners served as a key enabler in this drive for mobility.”

The World Cup Games served as a showcase for the emerging mobile TV services market, broadcasting live TV to a mobile phone or other handheld device. Microtune technology was deployed in the phones for the formal launch in Italy, in which mobile TV phones and service were available to a wide market for the first time.

Hutchison’s 3 Italia, a network service provider and the holder of the Italian World Cup mobile rights, launched its DVB-H mobile services prior to the start of the games. Hutchison’s 3 Italia deployed LG Electronics’ new LG LG-U900 mobile TV phone, containing the Microtune tuner, to receive the mobile TV broadcasts.

“We believe the positive results we are seeing from our technology during this early stage of the Italian mobile TV rollout position Microtune to take advantage of surging interest in mobile TV around the globe and here at home,” added Mr. Fontaine.

“In-stat projects that mobile TV broadcast subscribers worldwide will reach 102 million by the end of 2010, a giant leap from 3.4 million in 2006,” said Michelle Abraham, In-Stat analyst. “2006 is the year of the first deployments of mobile TV services in Europe, and in Italy, we are seeing the major move from an engineering trial to full commercial rollout. The Italian experience offers a model to test the business case and consumer acceptance, particularly what mobile phone subscribers are willing to pay to watch and what advertisers are willing to pay to reach them. Service acceptance will also be driven by the ability of service providers to deliver affordable, reliable service, comparable in quality to what consumers expect on home TV sets.”

Microtune technology enabled multiple other suppliers to offer digital TV reception of the World Cup games. In addition to being deployed in multimedia notebook computers and a variety of premier tuner add-in cards, all of which enable TV on portable PCs, Microtune’s tuners were built by multiple manufacturers into the newest wave of TV-enabling peripherals­the USB tuner ‘stick’.

Similar to the size and shape of a flash memory stick, USB tuners let viewers watch live broadcast TV on the computer’s LCD screen by inserting a thumb-sized adaptor into the USB port. Tuner ‘sticks’ offer the ultimate TV plug-in, small, portable and easy to use. They allow viewers to enjoy free-to-air digital TV, based on the DVB-T standard, not only in their homes but on the move.

World Cup fans were also able to watch the action from their cars. Microtune has been a leading supplier of tuners for Car TV, the precursor of all mobile TV services, delivering the highly specialized technology that lets viewers watch TV on the road. Microtune’s automotive background, in combination with its silicon and TV standards expertise, has provided the base expertise which the company has leveraged to develop its other mobile TV technologies.

Microtune today is the dominant supplier of car TV tuners in Europe with end customers that include Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche. Operating across rigorous driving, weather and environmental conditions, the company’s tuners are engineered to deliver excellent, stable TV pictures and sound, even when the vehicle is moving at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour (160km/h) on European highways.

“TV on mobile and portable devices is a natural evolution in the massive worldwide digital TV transformation,” Mr. Fontaine added. “The tuner is a key building block in bringing TV to consumer and automotive electronics, and tuner performance, we believe, will be both a key differentiator in the marketplace and a crucial factor in promoting broad acceptance and use. With our portfolio of tuner products, we are committed to delivering the radio frequency performance and reliability advantages of our market-proven technology to enable this migration to TV-on-the-go.”

DVB-H, an acronym for digital video broadcast-handheld, is an international standard for the broadcast of mobile TV, and it is based on the digital video broadcast-terrestrial (DVB-T), a digital television standard that has been adopted by Europe and much of the rest of the world.

In case you've never heard of them. Microtune, Inc. is a silicon and subsystems company that designs and markets radio frequency (RF) solutions for the worldwide broadband communications and transportation electronics markets. Inventor of the MicroTuner™ single-chip broadband tuner, Microtune offers a portfolio of advanced tuner, amplifier, and upconverter products that enable the delivery of information and entertainment across new classes of consumer electronics devices. The Company currently holds 62 U.S. patents for its technology. Founded in 1996, Microtune is headquartered in Plano, Texas, with key design and sales centers located around the world.

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