04.20.2009 11:55 AM
NAB: Harris, WRAL Tout Mobile DTV for Homeland Security
Harris Corp. on Sunday elaborated on the technology surrounding the initiative by WRAL (Raleigh, N.C.) to deploy mobile DTV on a city buses.

But that program is just an introduction to what Harris execs figure could be a just the start of a major new avenue for public safety officials to reach the public in time of emergency.

While digital pioneer WRAL—which was the first station in the nation to broadcast digitally, starting in 1996—is starting DTV on buses, onto screens powered by Harris’ InfoCaster digital signage solution, broadcasters figure mobile phones of the future will be able to receive mobile DTV signals. That means they will be able to receive emergency messages over-the-air to their handheld devices, using the nearly ubiquitous, high-bandwidth signals of local TV stations.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), which published standards for DTV transmission, is still working on its “Candidate” ATSC M/H (mobile/handheld) standard. But Harris is moving ahead with its MPH (mobile/pedestrian/handheld) standard, which is part of the ATSC standard.

Jimmy Goodmon, vice president and general manager of CBC New Media Group (a division of WRAL owner Capitol Broadcasting Group) noted at Harris’ press conference that in an emergency, officials want to be able to meet as many people as possible.

As mobile DTV advances from specialized deployments like the Raleigh bus program into the world of mobile consumer devices, the fat bandwidth, ubiquitous presence and local roots of broadcasters make them a key line of mass emergency communication. Looking at that opportunity, Goodmon called mobile DTV the most significant advance for homeland security imaginable.

In the case of Raleigh, screens will feature WRAL’s main feed in a central area, along with a three-day weather forecast, a weather map, and a couple of spaces for ads.

Harris Corp. is demonstrating a fully deployable end-to-end mobile DTV solution at NAB, including four key components for broadcasters to quickly deploy the new technology.

The four key field-upgradeable components now being demonstrated are the NetVX mobile encoding platform; the Synchrony MNA synchronous mobile networking adapter; the Apex M2X exciter and the Roundbox server.

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