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Gray Television readies mobile DTV service in Omaha market

Gray Television, a founding member of Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), is now on the air with a mobile DTV signal at WOWT-DT, its NBC affiliate in Omaha, NE. The station began testing the service to a limited audience in late July and has gradually expanded so that the station's signal can now be received on mobile devices directly from the transmitter.

WOWT’s president and general manager Charlie Peterson said the mobile video signal, using a small portion of the station’s allotted 19.6Mb/s spectrum, can be received virtually anywhere within the station's coverage area.

“This is the future of the television industry,” Peterson said in a statement.

“It's like having a television in your pocket,” said Jim Ocon, Gray's vice president of technology. “Imagine the possibilities during a storm. From an emergency alert perspective, I think it's going to be a must.”

The technology uses a special silicon chip to receive a signal from the station's transmitter with a portable device (laptop, cell phone, in-car system, etc.). The receiver chip is not yet widely available but when it eventually is — they are currently being manufactured by companies like LG electronics and Samsung and are expected to be available to consumers early next year or possibly late this year — a user will be able to access the news directly without going through a cable or phone service provider.