Gray Conducts Successful Mobile DTV Tests

Gray Television mobilized DTV in Omaha, the broadcast group announced today. Gray said it commenced its first successful mobile DTV signal at WOWT-TV, its NBC affiliate in Omaha, Nebr., on July 24.

Jim Ocon, Gray vice president of technology, is working with WOWT and the Open Mobile Video Coalition on a pilot test.

“It’s like having a television in your pocket. Imagine the possibilities during a storm,” he said. “From an emergency alert perspective, I think it's going to be a must. I think this technology is going to save lives.”

Broadcasters in Raleigh, N.C. and Washington, D.C. also held mobile DTV demonstrations this year. The industry is hopeful that a free, mobile TV model will generate much-needed incremental revenue, but there are extenuating circumstances. Several competitors have a foothold in the market, including Verizon, Sprint, and MobiTV, which has more than 6 million subscribers. Qualcomm, which provides the transmission system for Verizon’s VCast, is also said to be developing its own mobile TV receiver.

The hope is, however, that the free broadcast model will surpass those fee-based services, as long as devices are brought to market soon enough. Currently, there are no mobile DTV reception devices for retail sale. The trials are being done with prototypes.

“The chips themselves, the little tuners, are actually being built as we speak,” Ocun said.

The technology is expected to be on the market by late this year or early next.