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ATSC Mobile DTV Standard Advances

The Advanced Television Systems Committee has raised the ATSC Mobile DTV standard to "proposed standard" status and final approval of the standard could come as early as September.

Since the ATSC Mobile DTV "candidate standard" was released in December last year, there have been four updates, according to the ATSC. The fourth update, released May 29, 2009 made "substantive changes" in all parts. The ATSC Candidate Standards web page has links to the Mobile DTV Candidate Standard, but warns, "editorial and substantive changes are likely to be made in these documents prior to publication as an ATSC Standard."

While efforts continue on the standard, broadcasters have already begun adding mobile DTV to their ATSC signals. ION station WPXN and Telemundo station WNJU have had mobile DTV on the air in New York since June. Several stations in Washington, D.C. either have installed or will soon be installing mobile DTV equipment for the demonstration announced at the 2009 NAB Show (Word document). ION station WPXW is on the air with mobile DTV now and NBC station WRC should have a mobile stream up by the end of this week. Other stations participating in the Washington DC demonstration, as announced at NAB, are WDCA, WUSA, WHUT, WNUV and MHz Networks. These are not the only markets where mobile DTV will be available this year; at NAB 70 stations in 28 markets committed to launching mobile DTV this year.

Don't look for mobile DTV receivers at Best Buy or your nearby cell phone store just yet. Receivers are not expected to be available to the public until 2010. USB sticks like the PIXTREE ATSC Mobile DTV Receiver are likely to be among the first devices available.

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.