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ATSC Mobile DTV products on display at CES

For those that remain skeptical about the viability of mobile video services from local broadcasters, the recent CES show provided a look at a series of “real-world” devices that consumers could use to receive the terrestrial signals. It appears the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition sponsored a special TechZone at CES 2010 to highlight the entire Mobile DTV transmission chain, with more than 20 new mobile DTV products on display. Most were said to be rolling out later this year.

Technologies shown that support the ATSC A/153 Mobile DTV standard included netbooks (such as the Dell Inspiron Mini 10); battery-operated portable TV sets (LG Electronics); Mobile DTV USB receivers for laptop computers; a Wi-Fi receiver for an Apple iPhone (Tivit), prototype cell phones (Samsung Moment); demonstrations of electronic service guides and interactivity (voting, polling, Web access); and transmission and test equipment for broadcasters.

With development partially funded by the OMVC, the Tivit from Valups won three awards for innovation at CES. Tivit is a small mobile DTV receiver that beams TV signals via Wi-Fi to an iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, or laptop.

The Tivit is one of several devices that will be part of the OMVC’s upcoming consumer showcase in Washington, D.C., that is designed to gauge consumer interest in mobile digital television. The showcase begins in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in the first quarter of 2010, with eight local area television stations transmitting up to 20 channels of free and premium broadcast TV programming to mobile devices that will be used by actual viewers and local residents.

Unlike current mobile TV offerings that are subscription-only and largely offer only prerecorded shows, mobile digital TV from local broadcasters offers real-time coverage of local breaking news, local weather, and local emergency alerts in addition to favorite network programs that consumers really want to watch. Some 30 stations are now on the air with a mobile DTV signal.

Companies exhibiting in the 2010 CES Mobile DTV TechZone included: consumer device manufacturers DTVinteractive, iMovee, LG Electronics, PIXTREE, Samsung, Valups and WITHUS/Crestech; broadcast equipment suppliers Axcera, Lumantek, Rohde & Schwarz and Sarnoff; and middleware companies Expway and Roundbox.