The proliferation of the broadband infrastructure and the associated new business model has made the services such as IPTV and Media on Demand (MOD) possible. In the future, users will demand higher quality multimedia content that can be downloaded through a home broadband connection and transferred onto mobile devices. Satellite broadcast companies are already using current technology to allow users to download their favorite television programs onto their handheld devices. Amazon.com, the world largest Internet retailer, offers a complete music downloading service, which allows customers to download MP3 through a long term licensing contract. Amazon also offers an MP3 player with 1-2G of memory space free of charge, allowing users to download a limited or unlimited number of songs per month. In essence, this type of service is much like cable television.
With the continuing features and performance advancement in mobile devices, design engineers constantly face a two-fold problem: on one hand, they face pressures to cut costs and produce smaller devices with lower power consumption; on the other hand, they must offer more functionalities and higher connection speed.
The traditional way of accessing multimedia content for a mobile device is by connecting its USB port to a computer through a higher speed cable or "cradle". The downside to this procedure is that the user cannot connect to the Internet independently without turning on a PC or Notebook computer, and hence must go through a PC intermediary.
Another way of accessing multimedia content is through a build-in Wi-Fi module, where the connectivity can be limited by the surrounding environment such as concrete walls, the distances between the devices, nearby microwave and cordless phone, radio waves, the use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules simultaneously, and other forms of interference. The limitation to this procedure is that the current wireless technology such as Wi-Fi cannot achieve broadband connection speeds suitable for multimedia streaming with good enough QoS. The stability of a consistent and reliable wireless connection is also another concern.
Yet another way is to leverage the existing Ethernet network at home or in the office for broadband access. The problem is the build-in PCI or Non-PCI Ethernet module or Ethernet card increase the bulkiness of mobile devices. A possible remedy to preserve compactness is to use a separate cradle or docking station to connect the mobile devices to the network. The downsides to this procedure are the added costs of additional connectors due to the use of parallel bus in PCI or Non-PCI controller, and the signal interference that it generates.