The Indian Govt is exploring the potential of a new technology called Direct to Mobile (D2M), which allows mobile users to watch live TV channels on their smartphones without an internet connection. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and IIT-Kanpur are working on the details of this technology, sources said.
On June 1 last year, IIT-Kanpur in collaboration with Prasar Bharati and Telecommunications Development Society, India released a white paper on D2M Broadcasting. In that white paper, D2M is named as a part of NextGen Broadcast (NGB) that integrates many existing technologies to bring maximum results.
This is a revolution in the field of phones
According to a Deloitte study, India will have 1.2 billion mobile subscribers in 2021, of which around 750 million are smartphone users. Further, the demand for smartphones in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6 percent, the report said.
It is estimated that India will have 1 billion smartphone users by 2026. The growth of smartphone users is believed to be fueled by 5G technology and rapid adoption in rural areas.
With over 800 million mobile users in the country, the government aims to utilize this technology for content delivery, especially for educational purposes and emergency alerts. Therefore, the Department of Technology (DoT) is conducting a feasibility study of the spectrum band to offer broadcasting services directly to users’ smartphones.
There are challenges
However, telecom operators may oppose the proposal as it may affect their data revenue and business plans. Against this backdrop, direct-to-mobile is sure to face several challenges.
What is Direct to Mobile (D2M) technology?
The science behind D2M is similar to FM radio, where the receiver inside the device can tap into different radio frequencies. This new-age technology is a combination of broadband and broadcast that uses mobile phones to capture regional digital TV signals. Using D2M, multimedia content including live TV matches can be streamed directly to phones without using the Internet.
Made in India technology is the first revolution in the world. D2M will revolutionize content delivery, especially video. Consumers today watch videos on their phones; Most content is consumed on phones and with D2M tech, they will be able to watch video content without paying for data plans, Sankhya Labs CEO Parag Naik told Prachar Bharati News Services.
Establishment of committee
The band 526-582 MHz is designed to work in harmony with mobile and broadcast services. DoT has set up a committee to study this band, DoT Secretary K Rajaraman said at a meeting organized by IIT Kanpur.
Currently, the band 526-582 MHz is used by Prasar Bharati (DD) or Terrestrial TV Broadcasting. There are many analogue, digital ready and digital terrestrial TV transmitters operating in the band.
What is the need for this technology?
With increasing consumption of content from TVs to smartphones, it is a major driver of mobile data growth in India. Hence, it becomes crucial to bring live streaming capability to mobile phones.
According to a study by IIT-Kanpur, broadcast-capable smartphones will be able to stream multiple high-quality video/audio services, making optimal use of valuable spectrum and reducing the burden on cellular networks.
Moreover, with the increasing use of smartphones, the spread of fake news and viral content has posed a variety of challenges to governments at all levels. During the COVID-19 lockdown, crises of national importance and other incidents of natural disasters, the nation has witnessed the importance of broadcast media and the unreliability and bias of internet media.
How can D2M be used on a mass scale?
The ability to broadcast directly to millions of smart devices and smartphones is a strategic capability imperative in the national interest. According to a white paper released by IIT-Kanpur, various ways to effectively utilize D2M on a mass scale are suggested.
D2M can be ensured in doing the following things
Emergency alerts are delivered directly, reliably and without dependence on internet/cellular networks.
Disaster management audio content is delivered directly and authentically in a targeted manner.
A terrestrial alternative means of broadcasting public content of strategic or national importance is available in the event of catastrophic satellite failures.
Valuable spectrum, land, manpower and other public resources are conserved by converting radio services to a common shared broadcast infrastructure, where audio and video broadcasts can be received through a single interface on smartphones or smart devices.
Why are telecom operators afraid of revenue loss from D2M?
D2M technology can significantly benefit consumers by allowing them to access live TV over direct-to-home (DTH) lines without using data on their mobile phones. This helps content providers reach a wider audience.
Despite these advantages, telecom operators are concerned about losing revenue from video usage. Moreover, they also fear possible damage to their 5G strategies.
What are the disruptive concerns facing D2M technology?
DoT is currently conducting a feasibility study on D2M technology. It is still under development. The biggest challenge facing the government is to bring in various stakeholders, including telecoms, to roll out D2M tech on a large scale.
To get various stakeholders on board, the government should develop an attractive proposition for them or develop policy reforms for technology development.
To launch the technology on a large scale, the government must also overcome infrastructural challenges. Making technology available in every corner of the country is not an easy task, so the government has to make a lot of preparations in this background.