GPS Chip Vendor SiRF Aims at Mobile TV

Chip vendor SiRF Technology Holdings will introduce a mobile TV product next year that will let mobile phones and other mobile devices receive TV programming, according to a company executive.

The mobile TV market appears likely to take off over the next two years, and there are no major players in the market, said Kanwar Chadha, founder and vice president for marketing of SiRF, which is based in San Jose, Calif.

Makers of mobile phones, PCs, consumer electronics, and automobile navigation systems that currently use SiRF’s GPS (global positioning system) chips want to include mobile TV as a new function, Chadha said. The technology is complex enough for SiRF to offer a differentiated product, he added.

The new mobile-TV product from SiRF will support multiple standards including DVB-H (digital video broadcast-handheld) and DMB (digital multimedia broadcasting).

SiRF, a vendor of chips and software for consumer GPS applications, announced last week that it had acquired TrueSpan. Based in Long Beach, Calif., TrueSpan has developed an OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) engine that is optimized to support multiple mobile digital-video broadcast standards.

TrueSpan, which has a development center in Bangalore, India, also brings expertise in baseband and system architecture design for mobile TV. A SiRF subsidiary in Sweden is developing the RF (radio frequency) component for mobile TV.

SiRF announced in January that it was getting into multifunction chips that integrate wireless connectivity and other functions into its GPS chips.

The first version of the mobile TV product will, however, be a stand-alone device. Mobile TV is a new function for customers, and they would like to first integrate and test it with their devices, Chadha said. "Once the core technology is proven, it becomes a candidate for a multifunction platform," he added.

The combination of GPS and mobile TV on a device makes sense, according to Chadha. Advertising on mobile TV, for example, can be location based. The mobile TV signal can also be used to better calculate location information.

-John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

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