10.07.2009 03:00 PM
Wireless Carriers Build Mobile TV as Broadcasters Prepare for Launch
BASKING RIDGE, N.J.:
Verizon Wireless continues to beef up its video offering while broadcasters are
working to get mobile DTV on the air. Verizon has added the Big Ten Network to
its VCast mobile video service. In addition to live game coverage of the Big
10’s 250 or so events, the carrier will provide highlights, news and updates
through a renovated, $10-a-month add-on service, VCast Video.
Verizon Wireless has 87.7 million subscribers; though it doesn’t provide
numbers on how many handsets are VCast-enabled and how many of those have
activated subscriptions. The service is one of the first mobile TV offerings to
go live in the United States after the roll-out of the originator, MobiTV.
VCast was initially transmitted via Verizon’s cellular network and often
suffered from long buffer times. The service was moved onto the MediaFLO
transmission system in 2007 and subsequently launched in multiple cities.
Broadcasters in the meantime are working with developing technology. The transmission
specification for mobile broadcasting--ATSC M/H--has yet to be formally
ratified by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, though it’s expected to
As for receivers, there are only a few prototypes in the market. One broadcast
engineer in a major market recently said his station had been transmitting ATSC
M/H for several weeks, but he was unable to test reception for lack of a
prototype. LG, Samsung and Kenwood are among the primary device developers;
Dell reportedly making an ATSC M/H-compatible netbook.
The Open Mobile Video Coalition of 600 broadcasters working together on mobile
TV most recently released the first iteration of its Mobile Use Cases. Among
the suggested services are datacasting, “clipcasting,” push video-on-demand,
channel-change interstitials, e-commerce, geo-specific alerts and more. (Doug
Lung provides more details in his Oct. 1 RF Report.)
Broadcasters in Washington, D.C. started transmitting ATSC M/H over the summer.
Gray TV announced that it conducted successful mobile DTV tests in Omaha in
July. A total of 33 stations are expected to be transmitting the mobile format
by the end of this month, and receivers are expected to debut at the Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
More on mobile TV:
October 7, 2009: “Qualcomm
Rolls out Handheld FLO TV”
Qualcomm unveiled its handheld FLO TV this week, in time for the holiday
September 3, 2009: “Gray Conducts
Successful Mobile DTV Tests”
Gray Television commenced its first successful mobile DTV signal at
WOWT-TV, its NBC affiliate in Omaha, Nebr., on July 24.
August 26, 2009: “Free Analog Mobile TV
Bode Well for Digital Version”
The global uptake of free analog mobile TV is a good sign that the digital
iteration will be successful. That’s Telegent’s takeaway from a recent survey
from In-Stat forecasting that the world’s analog mobile TV user base will reach
54 million by the end of this year.
June 29, 2009: “More on
Mobile from Overseas”
Korean wireless carriers said that some 22 million people are using mobile
television in the country, according to The Korea Times. The population of South Korea is
estimated at a little less than 48.4 million. While the viewership is good,
advertising sales for the medium remain weak and the average revenue per user
April 20, 2009: “NAB: Broadcasters
Target D.C. for Mobile TV Consumer Trials”
The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) said Washington, D.C. has been
selected as a product showcase market for Mobile Digital Television (DTV)
technology. Additionally, four TV stations in Atlanta and Seattle will become
model stations for technical research and development of device interoperability.
April 20, 2009: “City of Raleigh
Initiates First Public Mobile DTV Deployment”
Officials in this Tech Triangle corridor city teamed up with WRAL-TV for
the first public deployment of mobile DTV. Capital Area Transit buses will now
feature real-time broadcast television. At least one bus had been converted
into a rolling TV receiver as of today.
March 20, 2009: “Mobile DTV Poised for
Rising Revenue Wave”
Mobile advertising revenues will hit $3.1 billion in 2013, up from $160
million last year, according to research from The Kelsey Group, a division of
BIA. Over the same five-year period, Kelsey predicts revenues generated by local
search advertising will grow from $20 million to $1.3 billion.
February 17, 2009: “MobiTV Tops 6 Million
MobiTV announced today at the Mobile World Congress event, being held in
Barcelona, Spain, that it had surpassed the six million mark in subscribers for
its managed mobile media services. The Emeryville, Calif.-based provider said
that it attributed its growth to the increasing popularity of smart phones,
consumer demand for top TV events and an increasing number of wireless plans
that have bundled TV and radio services.
January 12, 2009: “Mobile DTV to Launch in
Sixty-three TV stations across the country will launch mobile TV this year,
the Open Mobile Video Coalition announced in Las Vegas during the Consumer
Electronics Show there.