Michael Grotticelli /
04.16.2009 06:11 PM
WRAL-DT buses mobile TV test; NAB to showcase where video is going

While the term mobile TV is often linked with sending video to cell phones, WRAL-DT, the CBS affiliate in Raleigh, NC, has conducted a real-world test of what the immediately viable mobile future for broadcasters might look like.

Several demonstrations of the technology will be on display throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center, in the exhibit booths of transmission manufacturers like Axcera, Harris, Larcan, and Thomson, as well as within the booths of video encoding vendors like Envivio, Harmonic, Motorola and TANDBERG Television.

Last week the station used a Capital Area Transit (CAT) public bus equipped with two multiview plasma screens to display its Channel 5 programming and some ads while the bus rode around the city of Raleigh. Think real-time digital signage.

Using the ATSC A/153 Candidate Standard for M/H transmission scheme — developed by Harris but yet to be standardized — the station sent a signal from its Harris transmitter (with the required M/H exciter board) to LG Electronics plasmas screens equipped with M/H decoding technology. Microspace Communications provided wireless networking and digital signage system support. A systems integration company called Digital Recorders installed the equipment on the buses.

The flat-panel displays included weather information and three banner ads. The idea — which could serve as a viable business model in markets across the country — is to share revenue from the ads with the city.

Station personnel, in tandem with engineers from Harris and LG Electronics, will stage a similar demonstration in Las Vegas and throughout the summer months. The planned trial will expand to three or four buses, whereby CAT bus riders will be able to watch WRAL’s local, syndicated and network programming throughout the day, for a period of several weeks. In addition to WRAL programming, CAT passengers can also watch city-oriented news, real-time weather and other civic information.

The station’s management and city officials will analyze consumers’ interest before they consider expanding the digital signage service even further.

WRAL-DT is a founding member of the Open Mobile Video Coalition. The station was also one of the first in the country to broadcast a digital signal and also broadcasts weather, traffic, news and sports to mobile devices via its WRAL Mobile service.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition will sponsor a booth (C8150) at NAB to showcase the WRAL mobile DTV test and other applications for the technology.

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