Skip to main content

Mobile DTV Goes Live in D.C.

Many TV Broadcasters in the Washington, D.C. area have been preparing for the Open Mobile Video Coalition's (OMVC) Mobile DTV Consumer Showcase since before the ATSC A/153 standard was adopted last October. Recently the first wave of consumer Mobile DTV devices--Samsung "Moment" cell phones--were delivered to a lucky group of Sprint customers to replace their current cell phones in that market.

On Monday, the OMVC officially launched the Consumer Showcase. It was announced that other handheld devices from a variety of companies including LG Electronics, Valups and Dell will be distributed to hundreds of consumers in the D.C. area who will agree to provide feedback through daily diaries, market research and focus groups.

"The Washington Consumer Showcase represents another major milestone as the nation's broadcasters launch mobile digital TV for consumers on the go," said Brandon Burgess, CEO of ION Media Networks and OMVC chairman. "It's been just six months since adoption of the new mobile DTV broadcast standard and the Washington Showcase demonstrates the kinds of devices and programming that TV stations across the country are working to roll out to their viewers. We want policymakers to see first-hand what hundreds of area consumers are experiencing here this summer."

In the months leading up to Monday's launch, broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and consumer electronics manufacturers worked together to fine tune system performance and compatibility. The Washington D.C. Mobile Digital Television Consumer showcase will provide valuable information on how consumers use mobile DTV. Lessons learned will make it easier for stations around the country to introduce mobile DTV in other markets.

Stations participating in the Mobile DTV Consumer Showcase include: WRC-TV (NBC Universal), WTTG (Fox), WDCA (Fox), WPXW-TV (Ion Media Network), WFDC (Univision), WHUT-TV (PBS/Howard University /Public Radio), WUSA (Gannett Broadcasting), WNVC (MHz Networks), and WNUV (Sinclair Broadcasting). A large number of companies will be providing equipment, service and support for Showcase. See the complete list in the OMVC press release.

More than 20 Mobile DTV channels are now available through the Washington-Baltimore viewing area. In addition to traditional broadcast content, premium channels from Fox Cable and NBC Universal Cable and others are expected.

Whenever I write about Mobile DTV I get e-mail inquiries about purchasing ATSC Mobile DTV receivers. As most of these receivers have yet to receive FCC approval, they can't be sold to the public yet. The FCC approval process is underway and once devices are approved you should be able to find them at retailers. Keep an eye on Amazon as they sometimes get devices before other stores. Some other Web sites ship directly from China, although based on my experience with ATSC USB tuners, the performance of these devices usually doesn't match what you'll find in name-brand devices.

TV stations that are members of OMVC should be able to get devices for test and marketing purposes. As soon as I learn of ATSC Mobile DTV receivers being available for sale to the general public I'll provide details here.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.