Mobile DTV on trial in Washington, D.C.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) launched its four-month mobile DTV trial in the nation’s capital on March 24. At an event at the Knight Conference Center of the Washington, D.C., Newseum, OMVC Chairman Brandon Burgess, CEO of ION Media Networks, described the parameters of the Washington trial, which will involve nine local stations, national TV content providers, mobile phone carrier Sprint and an array of hardware and software vendors. The Television Bureau of Advertising and the Ad Council are also involved.

Burgess noted that the launch comes just six months since the adoption of the ATSC-M/H mobile TV standard. It’s relevant to note that OMVC calls this four-month event not a “trial” but “the D.C. Showcase.” That’s because Washington, D.C., is also at the center of the struggle for spectrum between broadcasters and mobile carriers, with the FCC acting as arbiter. “We want policymakers to see firsthand what hundreds of area consumers are experiencing here this summer,” Burgess said. Four days before the D.C. Showcase launch, the FCC adopted rules to take 25MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband service, against the strong objections of Sirius XM Radio.

With the D.C. Showcase in town, NAB President Gordon Smith and the NAB PAC lobbying arm of the organization can visit lawmakers’ offices with a mobile DTV-compliant device in hand, giving a real world demonstration of what mobile TV delivered by broadcasters has to offer.

The showcase is also functioning as a trial. The local area consumers supplied with a mobile DTV-compliant device will be asked to keep daily diaries and take part in market research and focus groups. Those devices include Samsung phones, Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbooks, LG Electronics portable DVD players and Tivizen mobile DTV receivers from Valups.

In addition to programming, the showcase highlights mobile DTV’s capabilities in the interactive and on-demand arenas, with consumer voting and polling, educational content, advertising, electronic service guides and video-on-demand clips. According to the OMVC, also demonstrated within the trial will be closed-captioning and emergency alerts.

Stations participating in the trial are WRC-TV (NBC Universal), WTTG-TV (Fox), WDCA-TV (Fox), WPXW-TV (ION Media Networks), WFDC-TV (Univision), WHUT-TV (PBS/Howard University/Public Radio), WUSA-TV (Gannett Broadcasting), WNVC-TV (MHz Networks) and WNUV-TV (Sinclair Broadcasting).

Vendors involved include Harris, Rohde & Schwarz, Grass Valley, Envivio, Nagravision, iSet, DTVInteractive, Expway, Roundbox, Rentrak, Tribune Media Services, RRD and SES World Skies.