With the FCC's push to implement its National Broadband Plan and incentive auctions, television broadcasters are being cautious, said Dave Benco, national key account manager, Rohde & Schwarz. This translates into an unexpected hesitation in Mobile DTV deployment.
“The issue for VHF is a fundamental one,” Benco said. “The physical antenna has to be bigger than a handheld device.”
Additionally, viewers of VHF broadcasters in some markets post DTV transition experienced reception problems.
“One of the ways we could help is more power, but that doesn't come without other issues — like interference,” Benco said. “VHF mobile reception has not been given the same priority as UHF mobile. If the FCC ultimately forces UHF broadcasters into VHF spectrum, more work will need to be done on mobile receivers”
Another related topic likely to receive a lot of attention at the NAB Show is distributed transmission and single-frequency networks (SFNs).
“SFN architecture will be critical to offering the quality of service necessary for a mobile offering,” Benco said. “Without it, certain areas will go unserved, which won't be acceptable to viewers on the go.”
However, it is “absolutely the wrong idea” that broadcasters can “start sprinkling more transmitters” in their service area with ATSC because doing so “could cause as many problems as it solves,” he said.
“SFNs and receivers will be the two main topics we will see broadcasters grappling with over the next 12 to 18 months. How do I get a better quality of service for the mobile environment?” he asks rhetorically.
Improved equalizers built into Mobile DTV receivers will help, he said, “but broadcasters will always be restrained by the legacy A/53 installed base of receivers. At some point, when it comes to network planning, broadcasters will begin weighing fixed vs. mobile service. At some point, you favor mobile over fixed, but we're not there yet.”
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