NextWave targets TV over WiMAX  

Operator-turned-vendor expands its partnership with Huawei and uses IPWireless’s TDtv technology to build multicast video into WiMAX

NextWave revealed a new video delivery platform today designed to deliver Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (MBMS) capabilities to new WiMAX networks, using technology from its IPWireless and PacketVideo acquisitions.

The network technology builds off of the TDtv technology that IPWireless developed for Time Division-CDMA networks in Europe. Using MBMS techniques, video channels can be fed through the base station to WiMAX handsets or portable computers, either multicast live to multiple users or unicast to individual users depending on channel demand and viewing patterns.

The plus side of such a technology over dedicated mobile TV technologies such as Qualcomm’s Forward Link Only (FLO) and Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld (DVB-H) is they do not require a special radio receiver chip to pick up the TV channels—the video stream is modulated right over the same WiMAX silicon. The downside, however, is that only NextWave WiMAX has the software necessary to receive MXtv. WiMAX interoperability testing partner Huawei has agreed to integrate MXtv technology into its WiMAX base station line, and NextWave mobile product division chief marketing officer Jon Hambidge said NextWave is finalizing other WiMAX infrastructure deals. If WiMAX vendors support and sell the technology, it will create momentum among CPE and handset vendors to build MXtv capabilities into their devices, either through buying NextWave silicon or licensing NextWave technology, Hambidge said.

NextWave is also taking the technology before the WiMAX Forum, hoping to generate interest in getting the technique standardized for WiMAX, just as MBMS has been standardized before the 3GPP for UMTS. If NextWave succeeds, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that all future WiMAX gear would be multicast ready, but the Forum could create as special multicast profile for devices and infrastructure supporting TV services.

Hambidge said video is an opportunity too good for WiMAX operators to ignore. Many WiMAX operators are sitting on vast swaths of spectrum, deploying broadband services in only a small portion of them. Sprint, for instance has 100 MHz of spectrum in many markets, while Clearwire has 70 MHz in several of its own territories. If those operators allocated 10 MHz to MXtv, they could offer 45 300-kb/s channels, running QVGA video at 30 frames per second.

Ideally operators could offer those TV channels for free or at much lower cost than Qualcomm is offering MediaFLO services, using that programming as an incentive to lure customers onto the new WiMAX networks, Hambidge said. “In the first couple of years of WiMAX deployment, you’re not going to use all of your capacity,” Hambidge said. “MXtv is a great way to monetize your network in the meantime.”

NextWave will give its first public demonstrations of MXtv at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas next month.

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