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ATSC Adopts Mobile DTV Standard

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) Mobile DTV Standard A/153 was approved late last week with overwhelming support from the full ATSC membership.

“Development and adoption of the ATSC Mobile DTV Standard is a major milestone in the ongoing evolution of digital television,” said ATSC president, Mark Richer. “We have been fortunate to have strong and active industry support, including thousands of person-hours of technical volunteers, for this work which enabled us to develop the standard in an efficient manner.”

ATSC Chairman, Glenn Reitmeier, offered a glimpse of the potential of the new standard.

“The ATSC Mobile DTV standard is flexible and robust, enabling a range of services business models that create new opportunities for broadcasters, device makers and consumers,” said Reitmeier. “It is particularly noteworthy that ATSC Mobile utilizes Internet Protocol (IP), which will enable broadcast services to be easily integrated with wireless broadband consumer devices and applications, further reinforcing the significant role of terrestrial television broadcasting in the media landscape for decades to come.”

News of the ATSC Mobile TV was a hot topic on iPhone blogs. The iPhone Blog asked “ATSC Mobile to Bring Digital TV to your iPhone?” While there was a lot of support for this in the blog, and in the associated comments, many questioned whether Apple and AT&T would allow it.

The “Unofficial Apple Weblog” stated, The future of TV on your iPhone is ATSC Mobile DTV. Pocket-lint didn't mention ATSC Mobile DTV but offers a reason mobile operators might embrace it – TV streaming has mobile operators running scared. The focus of the article was that increasing network bandwidth demands from wireless subscribers streaming video on their mobile devices are straining wireless networks. That article doesn't mention ATSC Mobile DTV, but notes that mobile operators are likely to set up tiered pricing that would lead to higher prices for subscribers streaming movies or games than for subscribers that only use it to browse the Web and check e-mail.

There is a good chance iPhone owners will be able to watch ATSC Mobile DTV, even if Apple doesn't officially support it. Devices are available in Japan to receive the 1-seg mobile video used and to stream it over a wireless link to smart phones. Watch for similar devices for ATSC Mobile DTV.

The ATSC Mobile DTV standard has support from some of the largest cell phone manufacturers--LG and Samsung. Verizon could offer ATSC Mobile DTV on their new “Droid” smart phone as another way of differentiating it from the iPhone. A developer I know at is willing to work with chip suppliers to make Mobile DTV available on Linux devices.

The adopted standard should be available soon on the ATSC Web site. For additional information on ATSC Mobile DTV and broadcasters' plans for rolling out service, visit the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) Web site.

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.