Mobile TV Coming to 22 U.S. Cities

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The Open Mobile Video Colation (OMVC) has announced that some 63 broadcast stations in 22 U.S. cities have committed to launching mobile television broadcasts during 2009. The stations cover about 35 percent of U.S. television households, and includes NBC, ABC< CBS< FOx, Ion, CW, and MyNetworkTV affiliates, along with nin PBS stations are are in discussions to join the launch.

“Broadcasters should be recognized for seizing an opportunity to provide the entertainment and public service benefits of live, local television coverage to mobile consumers,” said National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) president David Rehr, in a statement. “Consumers want to utilize mobile devices to follow news and sports, as well as local, regional, and national emergency announcements and other content that they have come to expect from their local television stations. The roll-out of mobile DTV will give them the opportunity to experience all of those benefits.”

The service will be based on the ATSC Mobile DTV standard, which was approved as a standards candidate back in November, 2008, and should become finalized in mid-2009. ATSC Mobile DTV is based on the Mobile Pedestrian Handheld mobile DTV system developed by transmitter manufacturer Harris Broadcast and South Korea’s LG electronics. The system uses a digital exciter that’s backward compatible with existing 8-VSB transmission systems used for DTV transmission, enabling mobile DTV signals to be broadcast within a digital television station’s DTV signal without compromising the station’s standard- or high-def digital TV services. The cost of adding ATSC Mobile DTV to an existing DTV transmission station is estimated to be around a quarter million dollars for a new exciter, along with encoders and multiplexing equipment.

The idea is to offer digital television signals for devices like cell phones, notebook computers, portable media players, in-vehicle systems, and other consumer devices; the problem being, there are no such devices on the market right now. Without a service, there’s no reason to build devices, and without device there’s no reason to run a service. The OMVC has decided to nip that chicken-and-egg problem in the bud by launching services, hoping that will spur OEMs to build compatible devices.

The largest markets participating in the Mobile Digital TV rollout will be New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Atlanta.