Mobile DTV at CES 2012

Although the Mobile DTV TechZone at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had fewer exhibits than previous years, I believe that this was more of a reflection of the technology maturation than a reduction in interest. This year, in addition to Mobile DTV technology, CES visitors got to witness some new Mobile DTV services.

One example was the Dyle Live Mobile TV service from the Mobile Content Venture (MCV). Dyle works with a new Android 4G LTE Samsung smartphone from MetroPCS, along with a 30-pin dongle from Belkin that supports the Dyle service for Apple iPads and iPhones.

RCA added a 7-inch tablet receiver with a Web browser and ATSC and Mobile DTV capability to its line of Mobile DTV receivers . Also, the Mobile500 Alliance demonstrated a device and application from Elgato for iPads using Siano's chip for its service. RCA added a 7-inch tablet receiver with a Web browser and ATSC and Mobile DTV capability to its line of Mobile DTV receivers introduced last year. The new RCA tablet supports the encryption method used for Dyle Mobile TV. All of these devices should be available before the middle of 2012.

Once attendees understood that Mobile DTV was different than Internet video, was free, and didn't involve their data plan, they wanted to know when and where it would be available. I heard questions like these at both the Dyle booth and at Belkin's booth. Overall, I saw a lot of interest in the product from consumers and retailers alike.

David Pierce at wrote in his article Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G, LG Connect 4G, Dyle TV for MetroPCS hands-on, "The device worked surprisingly well, changing channels effortlessly and reporting impressive signal strength. The Dyle partnership was announced a while ago, but MetroPCS has yet to ship a phone that uses it. We're not sure when this mysterious phone will be available, or how much it will cost, but streaming TV without the data cap hit is almost as nice an idea as a contract-free cell phone."

CNN's Brandon Griggs and Mark Milian listed the Dyle TV tuner as one of 5 CES gadgets that caught our eye. They asked, "Why is it that your uncle's clunky old handheld TV can pick up live channels, but our cutting-edge smartphones are left with 20-second cat videos? A new device called Dyle can put live TV on an Android phone, iPhone or iPad. The cork-size plastic gizmo has a headphone jack at the end of a short wire, which houses an antenna that can pick up digital TV signals."

New York Times' Roy Furchgott sounded a bit skeptical in his article Over-the-Air TV to Your Phone – Again. He wrote, "What stimulated this sudden push forward is a standard called Dyle. Dyle lets a TV station send a scrambled signal, which the Dyle receiver unscrambles. Dyle also lets the broadcasters turn individual Dyle receivers on or off, and tracks what viewers like to watch, just as broadcasters do through a cable box." He explained that "With money to be made, broadcasters became more interested in making the investment to add a signal for mobile devices."

PBS and LG Electronics demonstrated a new Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS) in the Mobile DTV TechZone. Unlike proposed cell phone alert systems that could provide only text warnings, M-EAS would be able to provide additional information in the form of video and images to better alert the public to emergencies, whether it is picture of an escaped convict, a map showing the location of a dangerous tornado in real time, or a map of safe evacuation routes in the event of fires or tsunamis. The technology, which is still in development, will be tested in three markets, including Las Vegas.

Now that 120 U.S. stations are broadcasting Mobile DTV, the first phase of the Dyle TV roll out nears completion and the Mobile500 Alliance rolls out its service, I expect to see more manufacturers overcome their initial concerns about the market for Mobile DTV products and announce real devices with Mobile DTV capability--ready for sale--at CES 2013.

Check out OMVC's video of its CES presentation here.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.