Microtune President and CEO James Fontaine revealed the company’s product strategy last week to meet the worldwide needs of mobile/portable TV manufacturers. He presented the strategy in Ingolstadt, Germany, for the kick-off of commercial mobile TV services and the introduction of handsets using a Microtune tuner.

“Leveraging our patented MicroTuner 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 Fontaine.

Fontain continued, “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 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.”

According to Fontaine, Microtune plans to expand on 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.

“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 Italia] 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 multi-standard approach, 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. Complementing its product direction, the company also plans to sell its tuners as wafer-level, chip-scale packages for system-in-packages.

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 United States later this year. Korea and parts of Germany have initiated mobile TV services based on T-DMB.