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ATSC readies non-real-time Mobile DTV interactive services for candidate standard status

The ATSC is poised to move forward with a candidate standard defining non-real-time services for ATSC mobile DTV that are aimed at making it easier for consumer electronics makers to build devices and for broadcasters to develop future services, according to Rich Chernock, CTO of Triveni Digital and incoming chairman of the ATSC Technology and Standards Group (TSG).

According to Chernock, the candidate standard will define three broad categories of non-real-time interactivity, including Browse and Download, in which video clips are transmitted to mobile receivers; Push, which is akin to an Internet RSS feed of news, sports scores, traffic conditions and short video clips; and Portal, which is analogous to pushing out an entire Web page of content.

“If you take these categories, it’s easy to figure out what to build, and the broadcaster can decide what to build to address it,” Chernock said.

Currently, the non-real-time services standard has gone through the ATSC balloting process and needs to go through a final edit, Chernock said. Once it becomes a candidate standard, device makers can build to it to see if there are any shortcomings that must be addressed before it can be considered for the final standardization, he added.

“Often people forget about local interactivity,” Chernock said. “But with interactivity in the device, there may or may not be anything going over a return channel.” Local interactivity leverages the fundamental strength of broadcasting, namely a one-to-many architecture, to overcome inherent bandwidth and infrastructure limitations of unicasting. “If you are successful and millions are interacting with the same thing at the same time, how do you do a server for that?” he asked rhetorically.

While the ATSC Mobile DTV standard provides for two-way interactivity, there is no requirement for its use, Chernock said. Non-real-time services can provide a level of user control that satisfies many applications. “Interactivity is in the mind of the user,” said Chernock.

Chernock will present information on mobile DTV interactivity during the “Interactivity in ATSC Mobile DTV” session at the International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE) Jan. 9, 2011, in Las Vegas.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.