Discussion Papers

Peter Stamm

Hybridnetze im Mobilfunk – technische Konzepte, Pilotprojekte und regulatorische Fragestellungen
Nr. 256 / Oktober 2004

Summary

The concepts of Hybrid Networks are promising intelligent combinations of mobile networks with digital broadcasting and local data networks to create wireless full service platforms. Depending on the service, the situation of usage and the local network availability, data traffic within Hybrid Networks is being routed over the respective network which offers the best efficiency for the chosen quality of service. Hybrid Networks will open new possibilities for convergent wireless services and will support a major increase of overall spectrum efficiency. With mobile multimedia services being transmitted simultaneously to users via IP-data cast, traffic is taken from UMTS networks which means a cost-efficient use of given capacities.

The recent concepts for Hybrid Networks comprise an integration of GPRS and UMTS mobile networks with T-DAB and DVB-T digital broadcasting networks as well as Wireless LAN data networks at hotspots. With DVB-H, a mobile version of the DVB-T standard is being developed at present to meet the demands of mobile TV reception.

Several market trends today can be considered as predecessors of future Hybrid Networks and Services and as supporters for their diffusion. Among those trends are innovative user devices for a parallel use of several wireless networks, new audio and video stream services over mobile networks or the utilization of mobile networks as upward channel for interactive TV programs.

Research and development on Hybrid Networks is being done within publicly supported international projects for nearly ten years. The focus of those projects has moved from combinations of GSM and T-DAB in the beginning to UMTS and DVB-T nowadays. Hybrid Networks are recently subject to field tests in Germany, Finland and USA.

Concerning the regulatory treatment, the separation between telecommunications regulation by the federal government and media regulation by each federal state constitutes a major obstacle for hybrid networks in the German market. A nationwide service requires licences from 15 media authorities of the federal states, which might be rather difficult to get by providers.

Another obstacle might be the content regulation of Hybrid Services. According to the specifications of hybrid services, they can be assigned to three different service categories with different regulation frameworks and regulation authorities: broadcasting services, media services or so called tele services. Hybrid services, which generally tend to include elements of more than one service category might be a challenge to this classification. [Only German language version available.]

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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