Mobile DTV Looms Large in 2009

The repurposing of broadcast television's most valued commodity—its program content—to new mobile devices such as smart phones, laptops, standalone video players and perhaps most significantly, vehicles of all shapes and sizes, could become the "next big thing" for both broadcasters and consumers by the end of this new year.

Setting off a chain of events already well underway was the November elevation of what is being branded "ATSC Mobile TV" to the status of a Candidate Standard. This next-to-final step is the end-result of years of industry consideration and would create a mobile television system fed strictly off local broadcasters' spectrum that would not have been possible in the analog era.


The near-final scheme now undergoing final testing (and minor tweaking) permits the deployment of a technically efficient, robust mobile stream (usually a simulcast) to be transmitted from within a station's FCC-allotted DTV spectrum without causing interference to a licensee's other DTV services running concurrently, such as HD channels and/or SD multicasting.

"During the Candidate Standard stage we hope to get feedback from companies who are implementing the system," said ATSC President Mark Richer. "We do not expect to receive many suggestions to make major substantive changes in the specifications. However, given the length and complexity of the documents, it is likely we will receive many comments suggesting editorial changes in order to clarify the text."

(click thumbnail)
This block diagram illustrates the path the ATSC signal takes to get to mobile devices.
Achieving Candidate Standard status also typically sends a clear message to all parties that the time to commence development of compatible devices and services can now get underway. And then it will be largely up to CE makers to devise as many different types of products using the ATSC Mobile TV standard as technology, creativity, capital, and the current economy will permit. [Supporters of the Candidate Standard are holding a special demonstration—sponsored by Harris, LG and Samsung—at a briefing at CES2009 in Las Vegas this week.]

The Open Mobile Video Coalition, a consortium of two dozen major broadcast groups pushing the ATSC standard, said between now and early summer it has plans for extensive interoperability testing and trials in various markets.

"ATSC Mobile DTV is built around a highly robust transmission system that is carried in digital broadcast channels without any adverse impact on legacy receiving equipment," Schelle said. "Because mobile DTV is built on top of the existing digital broadcast television system, it's anticipated that the cost to broadcasters will be relatively small."


Timing may be crucial for any successful launch of the ATSC spec because the term "mobile TV" will not be a new one for many consumers. There are other forms of mobile video (most of it not live) currently in the market—notably from MobiTV, iTunes, MediaFLO, and all those hundreds of Web sites which offer video podcasts, often directly from the big four broadcast networks.

OMVC's Schelle also emphasizes that because the Candidate Standard is a point-to-multi-point broadcast service, "It is not bandwidth-constrained like other current real-time mobile TV services. That means better quality for consumers [which] will be noticeable in terms of signal availability, as well as better picture quality and resolution." Also, ATSC's Richer adds, "The physical [RF] layer is unique because it must be backwards-compatible with the existing ATSC DTV system and provide high performance in a broadcast environment."

As an example, Adrick points to the night Barack Obama was elected president. "They had a quarter-of-a-million people or more in Grant Park in Chicago, yes?" Adrick said. "Let's say 100,000 of those people had mobile TV devices using the new broadcast standard [to watch Obama live]. No problem. But if those same people were using cellular-based devices for their mobile TV, you'd get about 40 or 50 devices on a cell and it would simply crash. Not so with a single point-to multi-point mobile system."


Post a Comment

Mobile Phones Blog | Features,Concepts,Applications and Prices © 2012 | Designed by Cheap TVS, in collaboration with Vegan Breakfast, Royalty Free Images and Live Cricket Score