Mobile DTV Moves Forward at CES

LAS VEGAS: As broadcasters ramp up Mobile DTV deployments in the new year, CES once again provided the launch pad for news and new products to receive free over the air Mobile DTV signals.

As the show opened, the Open Mobile Video Coalition announced that approximately 120 stations in more than 46 markets are now on air with robust mobile signals. More significant, the Mobile Content Venture, a coalition of more than 310 full-power TV stations from station groups such as Belo, Cox, EW Scripps and Gannett, announced a deal with MetroPCS, the nation’s fifth largest wireless carrier, to offer smartphones with Mobile DTV capabilities by the end of the year, (“Broadcasters Strike Dyle Mobile DTV Deal with Metro PCS,” In the News, Jan. 18). One expected smartphone prototype to be carried by MetroPCS, the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G phone, was on display in the Mobile DTV Pavilion at the show.

Other new Mobile DTV products included a new 7-inch tablet from RCA with ATSC-MH capability. The MIT700 is a slender Android-based TV receiver and will be available later this year; a price was not announced.

LG demonstrated “Tweet TV”, a social media platform that allows viewers to submit text comments on broadcast content and enables broadcasters to encode those comments for retransmission in a “transparent conversational overlay,” according to LG. The company teamed with Roundbox and Harris to offer a mobile version that allows the same overlay on Mobile DTV receivers, which was displayed on a prototype LG Android smartphone at the show.

Belkin announced an agreement with MCV to develop and market products and apps for receiving Mobile DTV on iOS and Android devices and will be available for retail later this year. At the show, Belkin demonstrated a prototype system with an adaptor and earphone that could be plugged into existing iPhones and iPads. The ear-buds plug into the adaptor and also serve as an antenna to receive the Mobile DTV signals.

The Mobile500 Alliance, another consortium consisting of more than 450 broadcast TV stations, will beta test a new dongle adaptor to receive Mobile DTV on iPads in Seattle later this year. The adaptor, powered by a Siano chip and middleware from Expway, will run on a TV app from Elgato, a German-based developer of video apps for Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads.

An important feature of this app will be its audience measurement capabilities, which will allow Mobile500 member stations to monetize the new service, which could include subscription, pay-per-view, and targeted and interactive ads. Fisher Communications will provide the Mobile DTV signals for the Seattle beta.