The head of Unique Broadband Systems Inc. says the deal it struck with CHUM Ltd. to build a terrestrial subscription radio network for the private broadcaster illustrates the flexibility of its mobile multimedia network. The Concord ON-based company announced last year the development of a mobile broadband video network that it was planning to deploy this year (RoW, Dec. 15/04).  The network build contract is contingent on CHUM being licensed by the CRTC for subscription radio. Two other Canadian groups, backed by the two American satellite radio companies, have also applied for subscription radio licences. The commission is expected to rule on the matter by this summer.  Gerry McGoey, president and CEO of UBS tells Report on Wireless that the terrestrial network that it could possibly build for CHUM will be very similar to the terrestrial network it built for XM Satellite radio in the United States. He says the only major difference in networks will be the size, noting that the satellite companies in Canada could have approximately 50 sites across the country, while CHUM would need approximately 75 to 80.  The reliability and robustness of the network is currently in testing in Toronto from a number of sites operated by subsidiary Look Communications Inc. The company told RoW late last year that the company would begin trials in the Greater Toronto Area early in the new year. "We’ve got it (running) from a number of sites and we’re still working on it. We haven’t told anyone where the trials are, but I can tell you that they are going fairly well. To be frank, we’ve got mobile video operating in Toronto on a trial basis, but just on a internal trial basis, not with any customers at present," McGoey says. He expects the company to make some announcements regarding the trial some time during the summer months.  Not alone in mobile video Unique Broadband isn’t the only company in North America working on a mobile video or mobile multimedia type network. Crown Castle in the United States has undertaken trials with Nokia and is currently working with Samsung Electronics on the expansion of digital television services in the U.S. market. Trials with Nokia in October 2004 proved successful.  Both trials tested the viability of the emerging DVB-H standard (digital video broadcasting-handheld), an open standard in the process of being formally adopted by both the DVB Organization and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. The technology will make it easier for mobile TV content to be delivered to cell phones, PDAs and other handheld devices. Samsung is expected to be the first handset maker to launch devices supporting DVB-H and higher-speed PCS technologies such as EVDO and GPRS. The devices are anticipated to provide consumers with high-quality, embedded television screens, capable of receiving streaming television and radio channels.  McGoey says the company’s network will be based on the DVB-H standard, but will also be able to support CHUM’s digital audio broadcast (DAB) infrastructure as well as the cellular carriers’ networks. "The network that we’ll build will have at least CHUM’s DAB, we’ll have our DVB-H, and it could be using (cellular) depending whether we have a relationship (with Bell or Rogers)," he says. Evidence of the significant opportunity mobile video will have in the future, he says, is witnessed by the large American networks’ decision to form mobile divisions. They recognize the need to reformat content, develop different content because of this new mobile TV medium.  Video only one part of offeringVideo is only one aspect of the network and the devices that will operate on it, he says. The network and accompanying network devices will support such services as audio and video, but also voice, storage and eventually transactional services.  "Once we have this mobile platform up, it will have a number of things. The first silo, which is the most important is just mobility. The second thing they (consumers) want is voice. They don’t know about TV yet because they haven’t experienced it, but the third thing they want is TV," McGoey says. Devices will also have functionality equivalent to that of a PVR, capable of storing 80 to 100 Gbs of information. Another possible feature of devices could be that of a digital cash machine, he adds.  Convincing people to pay for mobile video or mobile Internet may be hard to conceive of at this point in time, but McGoey says the company has the answer: roll out the devices and the services in a manner with which consumers can identify, beginning with mobility and voice and then introducing the other functions.