Technology

Turning Mobile Dreams Into Reality

Recent developments should encourage more DTV deployments and devices later this year 7/18/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

RELATED: Mobile DTV Developments Grow

Broadcasters have been calling
mobile DTV transmissions based on
the ATSC A/153 standard the future
of both mobile video and over-the-air broadcasting
for some time now. But in recent
weeks, some important developments—with
more to come—will play a key role in turning
that vision into reality.

“We are seeing the final technology pieces
falling into place for the deployment of endto-
end mobile DTV service that satis! es everyone
in the ecosystem” and speeds up the
rollout of the technology, notes Peter Mataga,
CTO of Roundbox, which has been working
on a number of mobile deployments.

One important development was the recent
release of new reports and tools by the
Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) that
are designed to simplify the process of deploying
new mobile DTV services and the
development of new consumer electronic
devices.

These releases include a new method for
analyzing and predicting the strength of
mobile DTV signals; recommendations for
implementing electronic service guides; and
tools to help broadcasters plan the bandwidth
and bit rates needed for different
types of content.

“What we are basically trying to do is simplify
a lot of the implementation,
both for broadcasters and device
manufacturers,” says Anne Schelle,
executive director of the broadcasterbacked
OMVC group that was set
up to develop the technology for
mobile broadcasts.

For example, the OMVC’s new
predictive model for the reception
and propagation of UHF mobile DTV
signals, which has been in the works for the
last two years, uses a newly developed algorithm
to better predict signal strength, making
it easier for broadcasters to find and fix
holes in their coverage.

As part of its work, in late June, the OMVC
also released new tools to help broadcasters
plan their spectrum and bandwidth requirements.
That will be important for stations
looking to customize their deployments so
they allocate the right amount of spectrum
and bandwidth for the content and business
models they plan to use, Schelle adds.

“They’ve laid out some great examples of
what has been done in various trials and at
stations that are already on the air in terms
of how much bandwidth you have to allocate
and what is the coding rate, for different
kinds of content,” such as sports or news,
adds Jay Adrick, VP of broadcast technology
for Harris Broadcast Communications and
chairman of the Mobile DTV Forum steering
committee that has been working closely
with device manufacturers and broadcasters.

An even more important development is
expected later this month, when the OMVC
and the Mobile DTV Forum are expected to release a document defining the baseline
capabilities needed in mobile DTV receivers
and devices.

That is important because consumer electronics
manufacturers have been relatively
slow in launching mobile DTV-capable devices,
in part because there has been some
uncertainty over what kind of features
will be needed in receivers
and devices. By defining what
all devices should be able to do,
broadcasters hope that more
manufacturers will embrace the
technology.

“It will really communicate
the must-have features that
the manufacturers need to
put in the receiver if it’s going
to work with the broadcast
signals and services
that are going
to be fielded,”
notes Adrick,
who adds that
the definitions will
also make it easier for the
companies to deliver new products.
“They won’t have to worry that
the device they put out will be obsolete in
six months.”

The cooperation between broadcasters,
chip makers like Intel, device manufacturers
like LG and broadcast equipment vendors in
developing these device profiles “shows that
the industry is making important strides in
the operational deployments of mobile, and
in the development of tools for anyone who
is serious about investing in the transition,”
adds John Lawson, executive director of the
Mobile500 Alliance.

Alliance members are planning to launch
a bouquet of mobile DTV channels later
this year that will initially offer two to three
channels and then expand to around 15
to 20 mobile channels.

E-mail comments to
gpwin@oregoncoast.com

 

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