ION Media Networks deems mobile DTV tests successful

ION Media Networks reported Nov. 10 that it had conducted two successful mobile DTV field trial demonstrations — one from WCPX, the ION station serving Chicago, and the other from KPXC, the group’s station serving Denver.

The field trials used new mobile DTV technology that will enable TV broadcasters to deliver live, over-the-air digital television to next-generation mobile devices, including battery-powered digital televisions, cell phones, laptops and personal media players. The transmission occupied a portion of the same 6MHz channel bandwidth broadcasters are using to carry DTV and HDTV transmissions.

WCPX, transmitting from atop the Sears Tower, and KPXC, reaching Denver from a Fort Lupton-based tower, are broadcasting two mobile DTV programs simultaneously, in addition to the multicast of four programs already transmitted, within their 6MHz channel. ION Media used handheld mobile phones, laptops fitted with USB receivers and screens installed in traveling test vans throughout the downtown areas, surrounding suburbs and rural regions. The trials demonstrated successful program reception in pedestrian locations as well as at highway speeds in the nation’s third and 18th largest media markets.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition applauded the tests. At the manufacturer level, LG Electronics and Samsung agreed in May 2008 to jointly support a single common standard for mobile/handheld digital TV broadcasting. The emerging Advanced Television Systems Committee mobile DTV standard, which enables DTV services to mobile and handheld devices, is moving ahead rapidly and is expected to be finalized in 2009.

For the Chicago and Denver trials, LG Electronics, Harris and Zenith provided mobile TV receivers, transmission equipment and technical expertise to ION Media.

ION Media’s WCPX and KPXC broadcast in multicast SD, which is compatible with multiple broadcast strategies, including mobile DTV. Their signals carry varied programming, including a digital feed of ION Television, a contemporary general entertainment network featuring a mix of TV series, theatrical and made-for-television movies and specials; qubo, a digital television and multimedia network that offers programming for children focused on promoting positive values and literacy; and ION Life, a digital network dedicated to active lifestyles and personal growth.

Editor’s note: Listen to Brett Jenkins, ION Media Networks’ director, technology strategy and development, talk about what was learned from the tests.

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