Technology

NAB 2009: Broadcasters Set Mobile DTV Test Markets

Atlanta, Seattle stations begin broadcasts in May 4/20/2009 12:00:00 AM Eastern

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Las Vegas -- Atlanta and Seattle have been selected as official test markets for mobile digital television (DTV) as part of the Advanced Television Systems Committee's (ATSC) formal standards-setting process. Two stations in each market are scheduled to begin transmitting mobile DTV streams next month that technology vendors can use to check product performance.

Gannett's WATL and Ion's WPXA Atlanta, and Fisher's KOMO and Belo's KONG Seattle, will serve as “model stations” for mobile DTV. The decision, which is expected to be announced on April 20 by the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, is an important step in commercializing mobile DTV. Vendors need to first check for interoperability between prototype products adhering to the ATSC's candidate standard for mobile DTV.

WPXA is actually already on-air with two mobile streams that launched April 1.

“We wanted to create places where anybody can go and guarantee there's a signal on-air,” says Brett Jenkins, director of technology strategy for Ion Media Networks and a member of the ATSC specialist group that drafted the mobile DTV standard.

Jenkins expects that a number of vendors will come out with mobile DTV products after NAB and visit Atlanta and Seattle to test them. The OMVC, which represents some 800 stations, will also be doing field testing of its own using trucks equipped with mobile DTV receivers.

OMVC also plans to conduct a consumer field trial of mobile DTV in early fall, but hasn't yet reached agreement on the market.

NBC, Telemundo and Sinclair are providing mobile DTV program streams at NAB, and both professional and consumer manufacturers will be demonstrating mobile DTV products. Dell will show a prototype netbook that includes an integrated mobile DTV receiver. The company is already rolling out netbooks in Europe that use the DVB-T digital TV standard.

"It turns the netbook into a mobile TV, with the keyboard as a stand," says Dell technology strategist James Clardy. 

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