In Europe last week for the kick-off of commercial mobile TV services and for the introduction of handsets using its tuner, Microtune(R), Inc. President and CEO James A. Fontaine revealed the company’s product strategy to meet the needs of worldwide mobile/portable TV manufacturers for future radio frequency (RF) electronics.
“Leveraging our patented MicroTuner(TM) architecture, coupled with our market leadership in silicon TV tuner-chips and digital TV expertise, our product plan is to develop new multi-standard, poly-band, universal TV tuners that can help drive the development of the global market for mobile and portable TV,” said Mr. Fontaine.
“We expect the commercial rollouts for the 2006 FIFA World Cup to serve as an excellent proving ground for mobile TV services. They will rigorously test the entire broadcasting system, while spurring interest, demand and deployments. We are proud that our DVB-H tuner technology is deployed in the LG Electronics’ LG-U900 handsets that will be used in the Italian Hutchison (3) launch. As additional mobile TV networks are introduced worldwide, we believe that multiple mobile TV standards, as with other digital TV standards, will co-exist across regions or countries. We intend to support these multiple standards with our advanced tuner technology.
“Our goal is to provide high-performance tuners to as wide a market as possible, while permitting our customers to cost effectively develop multi-market end products. In the process, we expect to solidify a leadership position as the preferred RF supplier to major consumer electronics manufacturers.”
According to Mr. Fontaine, Microtune plans to expand upon its existing ATSC, DVB-T and DVB-H-based products to develop universal tuners. They will be engineered as miniature single chips that support multiple mobile TV standards, while also easily enabling compact dual-tuner configurations for personal video recording and diversity applications. Anticipating the convergence of digital TV broadcast, multimedia and connectivity as part of the evolution of handsets and portable devices, the company also plans to investigate strategies to bridge its current tuner portfolio with expanded RF functions.
As the first initiative in its strategy, Microtune plans to expand its Mobile MicroTuner product family for the DVB-T, DVB-H, T-DMB, ISDB-T and DMB-TH specifications. When implemented into consumer multimedia devices, the new tuners will enable users to access a variety of content — digital TV broadcasts, mobile TV broadcasts, digital radio and teletext — while roaming across countries that offer differing standards.
Combining standards with expanded RF functions, Microtune expects that its future tuners will permit manufacturers to develop products for global markets without the added expense and duplication of effort to design standard- or feature-specific devices. They will help to accelerate a customer’s time-to-market and reduce costly development investments, while maintaining the very high level of RF performance and silicon integration associated with current Microtune products.
“With the continuation of worldwide field trials, the emergence of competitive specifications such as T-DMB, and most significantly, the first launch of commercial DVB-H services in Italy, the emerging TV-on-mobile devices market is dynamically moving forward,” said Paul O’Donovan, Principal Research Analyst, Semiconductor Group, Gartner Dataquest.
“Italy will prove a tipping point. The experience of Hutchison (3) in delivering mobile TV services in Rome, Milan, Turin and other cities will serve as both a test case and learning experience, identifying the interest of consumers, the appeal of content, the ruggedness of the broadcast system, the new capabilities in the mobile phones and, most importantly, the validity of the business model,” O’Donovan added. “A key criteria of initial success will be quality of the TV reception. Consumers know what TV looks like, and the new DVB-H mobile phones will need to deliver high-quality, consistent TV pictures on the small LCD screens.”
As examples of Microtune’s successful multi-standard approach, Mr. Fontaine cited the recently announced Mobile MicroTuner MT2266, a dual-standard (DVB-T and DVB-H), dual-band (UHF and VHF-Band III) chip that receives and tunes both digital terrestrial TV and mobile broadcast TV signals. Microtune’s first Mobile MicroTuner product, the MT2260, was the industry’s first multi-band (UHF/L-Band) DVB-H tuner to be introduced, sampled and put into production. This chip is currently deployed in LG’s LG-U900 mobile phone.
As the most rigorous example of the company’s multi-standard broadband expertise, Mr. Fontaine noted that earlier this year the company announced a 3-in-1 analog/digital/cable TV tuner. This tuner, the MT2131, is engineered to deliver benchmark-setting performance that exceeds the RF requirements of the most demanding standards in the world: ATSC, NTSC and Digital Cable Ready (DCR).
Complementing its product direction, the company also plans to sell its tuners as wafer-level chip-scale packages for system-in-chip packages, making its technology available in multiple form factors. Microtune’s chip-scale packaged tuners enable greater miniaturization, a key requirement anticipated in future of mobile TV products.
Multiple Standards and Product Options
DVB-H, T-DMB, DMB-TH, and ISDB-T are various worldwide digital terrestrial standards, using different allocations and/or bands of the frequency spectrum, that enable reception of mobile TV on handheld and portable devices. Commercial services based on DVB-H have launched in Italy and Germany and are expected to roll-out in the U.S. later this year. Korea and parts of Germany have initiated mobile TV services based on T-DMB. Major handset manufacturers have announced product line-ups supporting both standards.
Microtune Tuner Technology
Based on patented technology and advanced architectural designs, Microtune’s RF products function as universal RF ‘gateway’ components in delivering video, audio and data to TVs, digital TVs, TV peripherals, set-top boxes, VoIP cable modems, PC-TVs, automotive entertainment systems and handheld devices. They are engineered to deliver superior channel selectivity, image rejection, impedance matching, and wide dynamic range input amplification, outperforming traditional TV tuners across stringent digital performance metrics.
When integrated into consumer electronics devices, they provide users high reliability with superior reception, characterized by superior and stable pictures under varying signal conditions.
About Microtune, Inc. (Nasdaq: TUNE)
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(TM) 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 60 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.
Product Strategy Announcements
It is not unusual for Microtune to discuss its future product strategies and the announcement of new product strategies should not be viewed as an indicator of Microtune revenues for any current or future reporting period. The market for handheld digital television and mobile digital television may not develop or may develop more slowly than currently anticipated. Even in the event that these markets do develop, there can be no assurance that Microtune’s Mobile MicroTuner family of products or any of the future products discussed in this release will be selected by manufacturers or that if selected, such manufacturers will continue to select Microtune’s products in the future to support their handsets and other mobile devices.
DVB-T is the digital television standard for Europe and most of the rest of the world. DVB-H is an international standard, based on DVB-T, adopted for delivery of mobile TV on handheld devices. ISDB-T is a terrestrial digital television standard adopted by Japan for delivery of mobile TV on handheld devices. DMB-TH is a terrestrial digital television standard adopted by China for delivery of mobile TV on handheld devices. T-DMB, based on the DAB standard, is a standard adopted for delivery of mobile TV on handheld devices.
Microtune is a registered trademark and MicroTuner and Mobile MicroTuner are trademarks of Microtune, Inc.