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Harris announces new mobile video system

There's a new mobile video standard coming, according to Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast technology for Harris Corporation. At Sunday night's press conference, Adrick revealed Harris' latest technological innovation developed in cooperation with LG Electronics (opens in new tab): mobile digital television delivered in Scalable Full-Channel Mobile Mode (SFCMM).

The new system enables as many as 16 different video programs to be sent in the same 6MHz bandwidth used by a TV broadcaster. SFCMM has been proposed for ATSC standardization.

The FCC requires TV stations to provide at least one SD digital TV program in their 19.4Mb/s broadcast bitstream. Owners of other 700MHz spectrum, however, have more flexibility. SFCMM, if approved as a standard, would allow 700MHz spectrum owners and terrestrial broadcasters to maximize spectrum by permitting more channels of video to be transmitted.

One key to achieving the up to 16 channel operation is for the main digital program to be downgraded to a barker channel. Just enough data to advertise available mobile programs on the service to in-home viewers would be transmitted. This would leave most of the 19.4Mb/s bitstream in the 6MHz TV channel for transmission of mobile video.

Dr. Jong Kim, president of LG Electronics' U.S. R&D lab said, "Companies that own 700MHz spectrum are beginning to ask how they might put the power of ATSC mobile digital broadcasting to use, and we're responding by creating a new method of utilizing digital transmission to transmit even more programs. With our Scalable Full-Channel Mobile Mode system, we can offer multiple programs for mobile devices and a 'barker program' that can be seen by in-home viewers."

The LG-Harris Scalable Full-Channel Mobile Mode is designed to be compatible with the ATSC A/153 Mobile DTV Standard adopted by the ATSC last October. It will offer nontraditional broadcasters an effective way to reach millions of mobile, portable, and handheld devices.

Adrick says "the finished product will require nothing more than a software upgrade" to Harris Mobile DTV equipment.

"We're already working with a customer, and there are others operating in the 700MHz spectrum who plan to launch mobile services that are compatible with the ATSC transmission system," he said. "We believe that Scalable Full-Channel Mobile Mode transmission will come to market rather quickly, once it is standardized

To be clear, broadcasters would not be able to transmit the "as many as" 16 mobile video channels. Only those companies who have 700MHz channel authorizations could do so. Several vendors are currently setting on channels in this spectrum and SFCMM may be the solution they are looking for.

Broadcasters may ask if this proposed standard means additional competition for mobile eyeballs? Could such a solution mean broadcasters would face additional competition with what might be viewed as wireless cable channel? Or would bringing these deep-pocket service providers into play help to more quickly establish a viable MDTV broadcast model? The latter is what Harris seems to suggest.

Follow this space for breaking information as developments happen.