Mobile DTV Runs Up Against Analog Tuner Requirement

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission has agreed to consider waiving its dual-tuner requirement for mobile DTV devices. LG Electronics and Dell both make mobile DTV devices and recently petitioned the FCC to waive the dual-tuner rule. It requires that TVs shipped and sold in the United States have both analog and digital reception capability. Many low-power TV stations and translators still broadcast in analog, while full-power TV stations went all digital last June.

LG and Dell, however, created mobile DTV devices with reception based on ATSC M/H, the transmission standard for mobile, over-the-air TV reception. The companies are asking for a limited waiver for mobile devices only. Hauppage, which makes TV tuner chips, also asked for a similar waiver. The FCC combined the petitions and opened a docket for comments on the requests.

“Because devices that would be subject to the requested waiver would not be able to receive some broadcast television signals, we also seek comment on ways to identify and describe such devices to distinguish them from ‘televisions’ that can receive analog and digital broadcasts,” the FCC said in a public notice. “The... petitioners intend to offer these devices for sale during the 2010 holiday buying season and therefore need certainty regarding their regulatory requirements no later than mid-summer.”

The FCC established an expedited comment period for the waivers to give the companies sufficient time to make mobile DTV receivers for the holidays. Comments on Docket No. 10-111 are due June 4; reply comments are due June 11.
-- Deborah D. McAdams