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2009 in Review: Mobile DTV Gathers Momentum

While 2009 will be certainly be remembered as the year full power analog broadcasting was eliminated, I think it will also be remembered as the year that ATSC Mobile DTV moved out of the laboratory and into the field.

Even before the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) adopted the A/153 standard for mobile DTV in October, many stations had mobile DTV up and running and were testing it, thanks to the efforts of Harris Broadcast, Rohde and Schwarz, LG Electronics and others. By the end of the year, additional manufacturers, including transmitter manufacturers Thomson and Axcera had mobile DTV equipment ready for broadcasters. Also, additional consumer electronic equipment, including a netbook from Dell, was being demonstrated.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition, which has coordinated broadcasters' mobile DTV efforts, includes some major network O&O’s, as well as many large TV station group owners. Companies such as Roundbox, Expway and MobiTV are working to bring a variety of applications to cell phones, smart phones, in-car displays, and networks using ATSC mobile DTV technology. This is unlike anything broadcasters have been able to offer previously.

“Wireless TV”—in particular mobile DTV—is the future of television broadcasting. After all, only a small percentage of viewers depend on off-air reception for their primary television set. Mobile DTV provides a means for broadcasters to remain relevant in the 21st century. That's important, for if broadcasters don't use their spectrum efficiently to serve the majority of the population, there are many other companies out there willing to pay a high price for that spectrum.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.