Mobile DTV Developments

In the first seven months of this year we've seen more ATSC Mobile DTV devices appear on the market—ranging from RCA portable/handheld receivers that went on sale during NAB to the Hauppauge Aero-M USB tuner with ATSC and ATSC Mobile DTV capability, which will soon be available nationwide in Best Buy stores. Mobile DTV content can also be accessed from most conventional ATSC USB DTV tuners using the Decontis Mobile DTV Viewer.

Today, the Open Mobile Video Coalition released a progress report on Mobile DTV saying that the service should reach two-thirds of U.S. Households by early 2012.

There are currently 96 Mobile DTV broadcasters on the air, with that number expected to grow to 126 stations in 48 markets by the end of the year. The Mobile Content Venture's Dyle Mobile DTV service will feature content from NBC, Fox, Telemundo and ION, as well as local content that includes news and weather in 32 markets. This will reach 50 percent of the U.S. population before year's end.

Erik Moreno and Salil Dalvi, co-GM's of MCV, commented that the group's stations were now deploying equipment needed to provide Dyle Mobile DTV to a large number of viewers.

Colleen Brown, CEO of Fisher Communications and chair of the Mobile500 Alliance of TV stations said, "OMVC members are making the investments needed to make Mobile DTV available to millions of viewers. Mobile DTV channels now being transmitted are providing viewers with the latest news, emergency weather information, traffic updates and their favorite programs."

Conditional access is seen as an essential part of a successful Mobile DTV business model. To that end, the OMVC has announced that its Mobile DTV Trust Authority managed by Neustar is now operational, and that it is discussing the development of new conditional access Mobile DTV products with several companies.

The OMVC Mobile DTV Forum is working to complete baseline and enhanced technical guidelines to provide consumer electronics manufacturers with details on the Mobile DTV services that broadcasters will be offering, and to aid in the development of new devices for receiving these services. OMVC is also making available RF recordings of Mobile DTV signals under various reception conditions in the field to help consumer electronics manufacturers improve receiver performance.

Broadcasters need a way to predict Mobile DTV coverage, not only for marketing, but also to determine where modified transmission facilities or repeaters may be needed. Last month OMVC announced a new predictive model for UHF Mobile DTV reception. It uses signal level data collected from both vehicular and pedestrian indoor/outdoor reception, along with reception quality measurements collected in a number of cities. Additional field testing is underway to extend the predictive model to the VHF broadcast spectrum.

During the 22 months since the ATSC adopted the A/153 Mobile DTV standard, broadcasters, broadcast equipment manufacturers, and consumer electronics manufacturers have been working together to develop equipment that complies with the standard, work out the bugs, and finalize plans to make Mobile DTV a successful venture. I've been actively involved in this work and based on what I've seen during the past two years, and as recently as equipment tests I've been participating in this week, I'm confident the hard work of all the groups involved will be rewarded.

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.