While there is much debate about the wisdom of launching mobile video service in the current economy, the technology required to get it to mobile devices continues to improve. The ATSC’s Candidate (A/153 M/H) Standard is expected to be approved within months, when several stations will begin real-world trials.
Within the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) last week, several test transmissions occurred, and they all appeared to work great.
Indeed, Mark Aitken, director of advanced technology for the Sinclair Broadcast Group — one of the earliest proponents of mobile video and whose stations most vendors used to demonstrate their technology — said the buzz around mobile video has increased significantly and that at NAB he was inundated with offers from established and upstart technology companies looking to get involved in the various tests Sinclair (and others) are doing this year.
“Everyone wants to work with us,” he said. “We now have to sit down and figure out what makes sense and what doesn't.”
Throughout the show floor, virtually every transmitter manufacturer showed new systems and demonstrated the technology in their booths. There were also many partnerships formed to display potential services in a variety of forms. They all used the transmission of the local Fox, CW network and PBS stations, with signals going from the stations’ transmit site on the nearby Black Mountain to the LVCC.
For example, Triveni Digital worked with Harris, LG Electronics, Zenith Electronics, MobiTV and Roundbox to present a live demonstration of mobile TV that included single-frequency network capabilities. The test employed Harris encoding, multiplexing, SFN and transmitter systems, and Triveni Digital’s GuideBuilder platform. The GuideBuilder system generated metadata used by MobiTV to deliver its electronic program guide, Roundbox provided its server and Mobile Broadcast Suite technology, while LG supplied products with built-in receivers.
Acrodyne Industries, Grass Valley and Rohde & Schwarz also showed mobile DTV tests using their respective transmission equipment.
Jeff Rosica, senior vice president of Grass Valley, said that his company has developed preconfigured systems that are “fully compatible” with the emerging standard, existing broadcast systems and “today’s tight budgets.”
The Grass Valley mobile TV platform includes a new ATSC-M/H software module for the ADAPT-IV digital exciter, which is incorporated in the Grass Valley Elite, DCX Paragon and DCX Millennium digital television (ATSC) transmitters.
At the headend, a new version of the Grass Valley ViBE mobile TV encoding platform provides compression and works in tandem with the NetProcessor 9030 multiplexer, and ATSC-M/H transport stream generation. These can be used in conjunction with the Grass Valley Jade electronic service guide generator, and the entire system can be managed centrally using the XMS service management platform.
The preintegrated system is ready today to provide a stable test platform that can quickly move to implementation and reduce the time to market for broadcasters keen to move into mobile television.
There’s also technology to facilitate interactive applications. Jay Addrick, vice president at Harris’ Broadcast Communications Division, said there are a number of new business opportunities for new business models, including using “widgets” to bring interactive content form station’s Web sites to the mobile environment. These were demonstrated in the Harris exhibit booth.
Harris’ mobile TV platform includes its Apex exciter, NetVX, Synchrony MNA and Roundbox Mobile Broadcast Suite software.
Rohde & Schwarz (R&S) showed a live demonstration of ATSC mobile DTV working on an SFN in Las Vegas. The company had initially supported using the Advanced VSB (A-VSB) technology for mobile broadcasting, but has now jumped onboard the Candidate Standard.
The Sinclair Broadcast Group station KVCW broadcast three mobile DTV services on Channel 29: "theCW" primary (33.1), the PBS primary (10.1), and “THECOOLTV,” an interactive service created by MobiTV and The Cool Music Network, using the new R&S AEM100 Emission Multiplexer and a Acrodyne Quantum IOT transmitter with a R&S SX800 exciter.
The same equipment was used for an SFN demonstration by the NBC/Telemundo station KBLR to multiplex several mobile programs into its stream, which Dish Network distributed over a satellite feed to the KBLR station on Black Mountain and two other transmitters on Channel 40 (located on the Stratosphere observation tower and in the LVCC) during the NAB Show.
R&S employed an SFN synchronization method to secure reception. This included content insertion at the local station level and enabling “hand-off” procedures. The company said this was a more cost-effective and flexible solution for broadcasters wishing to implement an ATSC mobile DTV SFN without sacrificing the possibility to add future enhancements.
Triveni Digital, ION Media Networks and Microwave Radio Corp. supported the display of content on LG Electronics receiver devices.