Mobile TV at NAB 2012

Broadcasters and vendors will be out in force at the NAB convention next week in Las Vegas, demonstating mobile DTV. The Mobile DTV Pavilion, sponsored by the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) and the ATSC Tech Zone run by Advanced Television Systems Committee will be showing the latest in mobile television technology.

Two broadcaster-backed groups are planning to launch service this year. The Mobile Content Venture will display its Dyle Mobile TV mobile DTV offering on a variety of devices and the Mobile500 Alliance of stations will be showcasing mobile DTV system that will be soft launched this summer on Fisher Communication’s KOMO and in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market on Hubbard Broadcasting’s KSTP-TV station.

Dyle is a consumer-facing brand to deliver live mobile television content from 15 major broadcast groups including Belo, Cox, Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek Stations, Fox, ION, Univision, Bahakel, Telemundo and NBC.

The Mobile500 Alliance hopes to launch 15-20 Mobile DTV channels with their service in each market. The integrated user experience of the proposed service will provide mobile device users with a mix of free and subscription channels along Video On Demand content and data services delivered via Mobile DTV and through 3G/4G and Wi-Fi networks.

The Mobile500 also announced that four new public television stations had joined its membership: WTTW/Chicago, Maryland Public Television, Public Broadcasting Atlanta, and New Mexico. LG Electronics, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will also demonstrate the Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS) that use mobile DTV broadcasts to alert mobile DTV devices.

Mobile DTV has been under discussion for a decade with OMVC formed in 2007 and ATSC’s standard-setting work starting in June 2008. Mobile Television may have to walk a political tightrope. Broadcasters, unlike cellular providers, do not pay to use (our) spectrum. Charging for mobile services, conceivably, could force group owners to pay spectrum fees like everyone else.

“Under FCC rules, public stations can fully participate financially in digital services, and Mobile500 creates a pathway for them to do that,” said John Lawson, Mobile500’s executive director.

Stations face the option of relinquishing some spectrum and sharing a 6 MHz channel — possibly pairing commercial and noncom broadcasters — as part of the upcoming spectrum auction and subsequent repacking (Current, Feb. 28).

Some Samsung phones will receive special “Mobile DTV” signals broadcast by 72 stations in 32 cities. However, NBC and Fox will be encrypting their signals so they can only be received by the phone app that will be on the Samsung phone, according to Salil Dalvi, co-head of the Mobile Content Venture, which organizes the TV stations using Mobile DTV technology.

Typically ATSC-M/H service in the United States will offer two to three program channels. Some 4.4 Mbps may be allocated for the MPH stream, leaving approximately 15 Mbps for the main ATSC television programming. ATSC-M/H and the defunct MediaFLO require a special phone with a tv tuner. MobiTV, available from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, uses cellular channels. It costs about $15/month and may work with your current phone.

The government recovered 108 MHz for the DTV transition by enabling use of adjacent channels. Those channels can now be utilized since digital technology largely solves co-channel interference issues. The government wants a swath of 120 MHz cleared, between channels 31 and 51. Broadcasters using those channels would then be re-located, with that spectrum then made available for auctioning to broadband wireless providers.

Broadcast TV channels are expected to be “repacked” to a new “core” band of channels, between Channels 7 to 30. Exactly how that will happen is not yet clear, but the FCC is expected to issue some clarification by the end of this month.

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Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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