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Mobile DTV Products Shown at CES

New products for ATSC Mobile DTV shown at CES last week ranged from USB and 30-pin dongles to RCA's inexpensive handheld and portable TV sets, as well as integrated tuners in Samsung's Galaxy tablet and Dell's Mini-10 netbook.

Companies wanting to include ATSC Mobile DTV in their products could choose from a variety of chips and assemblies from Siano, LG, ENSPERT, Crestech and others.

The manufacturers I spoke with at CES were excited about the potential for ATSC Mobile DTV, but also indicated that unless more U.S. stations started offering Mobile DTV signals, their engineering resources would be devoted to more popular Mobile DTV standards in other countries.

While the exact number of stations broadcasting Mobile DTV in this country is unknown, the best estimates give the number at around 100. And I know that the number is increasing, as I turned on a new Mobile DTV channel in the Bay Area this Wednesday.

At CES, ION Media Networks announced plans to upgrade stations for mobile DTV. ION promised to have its top 10 markets Mobile DTV-ready within 60 days in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston and Detroit. Some of these stations are on the air now.

In addition to the ION stations, during my travels I've watched Mobile DTV from NBC stations in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, and San Jose. I've also viewed Mobile DTV on the Spanish language NBC-owned Telemundo stations in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Jose. And I've seen Fox Mobile TV on the air in Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as Univision's offerings in Los Angeles. These stations represent a small percentage of the Mobile DTV stations already on the air. There are many more stations on the air in Washington D.C. And in the Bay Area, I noticed Cox station KICU-TV in San Jose was relaying KTVU, Oakland, Calif. on a Mobile DTV channel.

DTVInteractive had a booth in the Mobile DTV area at CES to show off its Mobile DTV test equipment and receivers. They also showed an ATSC Mobile DTV multiplexer and exciter combination with a package price of around $50,000. The exciter includes adaptive linear and non-linear precorrection. DTVInteractive is working with another company to offer a software-based ATSC MH compatible H.264 encoder at a bargain price. A DTVInteractive representative said the company was offering the package to encourage more stations to begin broadcasting ATSC Mobile DTV.

See more stories on Mobile DTV products at CES in this week's "RF Shorts".

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.