What is D2M Technology: Everything You Need to Know

In Short
  • D2M(Direct To Mobile) technology will begin testing soon in India. It is being developed by IIT Kanpur in collaboration with Saankhya Labs.
  • This technology will allow mobile devices across the country to stream multimedia content without an internet connection.
  • D2M will conduct initial tests in 19 cities across India, and once fully developed, will be tested across Delhi NCR region.

Imagine this, you are streaming your favorite TV show on your mobile phone and suddenly, your internet connectivity is disrupted leaving you hanging in the middle. I’m sure this has happened to all of us more than once, but it seems that these annoyances may soon come to an end. It has been revealed that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is going to begin the testing of D2M (or direct-to-mobile transmission) technology in India very soon. What is D2M technology, you ask? In short, it is a technology that lets users like us stream multimedia content without relying on internet connectivity. In this article, learn everything you need to know about D2M technology, how it works, and how it will benefit you.

What is D2M Technology: Explained

D2M technology
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D2M stands for Direct to Mobile, a broadcasting technology that allows mobile devices to stream content, both educational and entertainment, without requiring internet connectivity.

D2M technology uses LMRS (Land to Mobile Radio System) to broadcast content. Up to now, this radio communication system has been used solely for voice transmissions or emergency broadcasts, but now, the Government of India will be implementing this to broadcast video content as well.

Using D2M technology to broadcast video content will eliminate the necessity of relying on satellite networks for viewing content and will also double down as a reliable communication system in the event of calamities or a national emergency. D2M services will operate on a frequency of 526 – 582 MHz, which is currently used for digital terrestrial broadcasting channels like Prasar Bharati (DD).

To make things simpler, you can consider it similar to listening to radio where specific frequencies are tapped in to listen to the content. However, D2M technology can stream multimedia content as well.

Who is Developing D2M Technology for India?

Under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, IIT Kanpur will be working in collaboration with Saankhya Labs to develop and deploy D2M technology all over India.

The proof-of-concept for this new tech is being undertaken by IIT Kanput meanwhile the hardware necessary for the successful implementation will be sourced from Saankhya Labs, who is providing the IIT with its Software Defined Radios and Broadcast Radio Heads embedded with their next-gen P3 chipsets.

How Will the D2M Technology Work in India?

D2M services will be launched with a charge much lower than current subscriptions for popular OTT platforms like Netflix. To make sure that D2M works seamlessly, a total reform of the existing transmission system will be essential.

As of now, a huge majority of video broadcasting is done through a traditional single HPHT (High Power Height Towers), which is rather expensive and can be used to only broadcast in a specific location lacking network distribution in other nearby areas. The towers provide a 60KW high power transmission but due to their massive size, they suffer from spotty coverage and lower bandwidth.

For D2M, a hybrid broadcasting system consisting of a combination of HPHTs and LPLTs (Low Power Low Towers) will be essential. With accurate radio frequency planning, this new hybrid system can provide impeccable broadcasting quality with substantially better outdoor and indoor reception.

Another concern for this technology is the current optimization of mobile devices in India. For D2M to work, mobile smartphones will require the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) 3.0 standard. These standards define how a telecom signal is received and interpreted by devices.

To make sure that D2M functions seamlessly, mobile phones integrated with a separate baseband processing unit will have to be circulated in the market. Moreover, it goes without saying that this implementation is going to take some time to be made available throughout the country. This is a huge roadblock for D2M and let’s see how the government plans to tackle it.

According to the white paper published by IIT Kanpur, D2M technology will allow users to access unlimited video content at a nominal fixed monthly price.

Possible Implementations of D2M in India

Now, let’s assume that the required modifications in the telecommunication infrastructure are made successfully. Now, what could be the possible uses of D2M technology in India?

Reduced Reliance on Satellites

First and foremost, a network that does not rely on satellite connections can prove to be extremely helpful in keeping the people of India connected to the government in a total sat-com shutdown due to a catastrophe or in a state of war.

Faster News Transmission, Easy Communication

Another major implementation of this technology could be easy communication with the citizens and faster transmission of news to the people via government channels. This will prevent from it being altered through different media channels like during the COVID crisis.

OTT Content Aggregation

With time, this platform can also aggregate content from the numerous OTT platforms available to use today, creating an infotainment platform non-reliant on the internet and also preventing people from paying higher prices for their subscriptions.

In Which Cities the D2M Technology Will Be Tested?

According to Apurva Chandra, the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the initial experimental testing will be done “across 19 cities using the digital terrestrial transmission network of Prasar Bharati.” The government is yet to share the exact list of cities where this tech is going to be deployed.

Once the technology is fully developed, a larger-scale pilot will be conducted in Delhi NCR using its already existing somewhat of a hybrid HPHT and LPLT broadcasting system.

D2M Technology: Benefits to Users

Even though the introduction of D2M can be a huge step for the telecom sector of India, it has its own set of pros and cons.

Non-reliability on internet

If we talk about the salient features of D2M tech, the biggest advantage of this technology is its non-reliability on the internet or any other satellite-based network.

Reduced Data Consumption

With the introduction of 5G data connectivity, telecom companies started offering free 5G data. But once the honeymoon period runs out, the prices for data plans will certainly rise, adding more to the expenses of the people.

With D2M, people will be able to possibly stream high-quality content without worrying about exhausting their data plans. This will help in bringing down the consumption of internet data, thus, benefiting people who spend money on internet plans specifically for watching video content.

Decongestion of Network

With the humongous population of India, D2M will serve as an additional data pipe, thus, reducing the congestion on mobile networks. Indians spend a lot of internet data watching video content on OTT platforms. The introduction of D2M will help decongest heavy bandwidth consumption.

D2M Technology: Roadblocks and Cons

Now, coming to the cons of D2M, one of the biggest drawbacks of this tech is compatibility.

Existing smartphones in India do not have the chipset required to access the bandwidth at which the D2M services will be broadcast. An additional baseband processing unit is required in the smartphones to use the D2M technology. In a statement, Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra stated,

“You need a certain chip in devices. We’ve to see how that adoption takes place. Then, we’ve to see how much content is being consumed—we’ll take all of this into consideration before launching at a mass scale. As of now, we’re not mandating any smartphone company or telecom operator, since this is only a pilot.”- Apurva Chandra

Integrating this chipset into mobile devices can cause a hike in the price of smartphones all over India and will take a significant amount of time to be fully integrated across the country.

Another drawback of this technology is the fact that even though it is highly innovative, D2M is essentially in its premature stage or Beta phase at the moment. Due to this very reason, telecom companies have concerns regarding optimization, which may hinder the quality of their product.

D2M Technology Release Date in India

As of now, there is no official release date for the D2M technology in India. But considering that it will be tested soon, D2M tests can be potentially rolled out sometime in 2025.

Beebom’s Take on D2M Releasing in India

According to a paper published regarding D2M services, the broadcasting companies that will be using this platform as a pipeline for their services will have direct access to consumer data statistics. This is said to be done for the ease of targeted advertisements. Even though this is being done for the benefit of service providers, this can lead to a platform slapped with ads, thus, hindering the user experience.

However, D2M could prove to be extremely beneficial in case of a nationwide tragedy or a satellite communication failure. It could also prove to be an important step in cutting down the spread of fake news and propaganda-rich news.

When is D2M is releasing in India?

Currently, D2M technology does not have a release date in India but a beta test is expected to roll out sometime in 2025.

Who is developing D2M in India?

D2M is being developed by IIT Kanpur in collaboration with Saankhya Labs.

What is D2M?

D2M stands for Direct to Mobile and will allow users to stream content on their mobile devices without an active internet connection.

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