Skip to main content

WASHINGTON: After two years and five months in development, the mobile DTV standard had been approved. The Advanced Television Systems Committee said today it has approved the ATSC Mobile DTV Standard, A/153. The ballot, tallied at midnight Oct. 15, was approved with overwhelming support by the full ATSC membership.

“Development and adoption of the ATSC Mobile DTV Standard is a major milestone in the ongoing evolution of digital television,” ATSC President Mark Richer said “We have been fortunate to have strong and active industry support, including thousands of person-hours of technical volunteers, for this work which enabled us to develop the standard in an efficient manner.”

A/153, also known as ATSC M/H, defines the technical specifications necessary for broadcasters to provide new services to mobile and handheld devices using their digital television transmissions. The new services for mobile and handheld devices are carried along with current DTV services without any adverse impact on legacy receiving equipment.

ATSC M/H supports a variety of services, including advertiser-supported television, real-time interactive media, subscription-based TV, and file-based content download. The standard can also be used for transmission of new data broadcasting services. It will give broadcasting access to the mobile video arena of cell phones, small handheld DTVs, laptop computers and in-vehicle entertainment systems.

Stations across the country began field testing ATSC M/H earlier this year. Some 33 are expected to be transmitting the mobile format by the end of this month, though many lack the prototype handhelds necessary to test reception. LG, Samsung, Kenwood and Dell are the lead manufacturers for A/153-compatible devices. Receivers ready for prime time are expected to be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA, said, “As a founding ATSC member, CEA congratulates ATSC on achieving this new standard, which will help chipmakers and equipment manufacturers proceed with product development and deployment.”

ATSC M/H is based on vestigial sideband modulation, with enhanced error correction and other techniques to improve robustness and reduce power consumption in portable receivers, coupled with a flexible and extensible IP-based transport system, MPEG AVC video, and HE AAC v2 audio coding. It will carry existing digital broadcast channels in addition to new services such as interactive TV, available on broadband-enabled ATSC M/H receivers.

Paul Karpowicz, NAB Television Board chairman and president of Meredith Broadcast Group had this to say: “This will introduce the power of local broadcasting to a new generation of viewers and provide all-important emergency alert, local news and other programming to consumers across the nation.”

Glenn Reitmeier, ATSC chairman:: “It is particularly noteworthy that ATSC Mobile utilizes Internet Protocol, which will enable broadcast services to be easily integrated with wireless broadband consumer devices and applications, further reinforcing the significant role of terrestrial television broadcasting in the media landscape for decades to come.”

From Dennis Wharton of the NAB: “We strongly believe that all Americans will benefit from the advanced capabilities of mobile DTV and broadcasters’ innovative use of over-the-air spectrum.”

The new standard document will be available online on the ATSC Standards page.

More on mobile TV:
October 7, 2009: “Wireless Carriers Build Mobile TV as Broadcasters Prepare for Launch”
Verizon Wireless has 87.7 million subscribers; though it doesn’t provide numbers on how many handsets are VCast-enabled and how many of those have activated subscriptions. The service is one of the first mobile TV offerings to go live in the United States after the roll-out of the originator, MobiTV.

October 7, 2009: “Qualcomm Rolls out Handheld FLO TV”
Qualcomm unveiled its handheld FLO TV this week, in time for the holiday season.

September 3, 2009: “Gray Conducts Successful Mobile DTV Tests”
Gray Television commenced its first successful mobile DTV signal at WOWT-TV, its NBC affiliate in Omaha, Nebr., on July 24.

August 26, 2009: “Free Analog Mobile TV Bode Well for Digital Version
The global uptake of free analog mobile TV is a good sign that the digital iteration will be successful.

June 29, 2009: “More on Mobile from Overseas
Korean wireless carriers said that some 22 million people are using mobile television in the country, according to The Korea Times. The population of South Korea is estimated at a little less than 48.4 million.

April 20, 2009: “NAB: Broadcasters Target D.C. for Mobile TV Consumer Trials”
The Open Mobile Video Coalition said Washington, D.C. has been selected as a product showcase market for Mobile DTV technology.

April 20, 2009:“City of Raleigh Initiates First Public Mobile DTV Deployment”
Officials in this Tech Triangle corridor city teamed up with WRAL-TV for the first public deployment of mobile DTV.

March 20, 2009: “Mobile DTV Poised for Rising Revenue Wave”
Mobile advertising revenues will hit $3.1 billion in 2013, up from $160 million last year, according to research from The Kelsey Group, a division of BIA.

February 17, 2009: “MobiTV Tops 6 Million Subscribers”
MobiTV announced today at the Mobile World Congress event, being held in Barcelona, Spain, that it had surpassed the six million mark in subscribers for its managed mobile media services.

January 12, 2009: “Mobile DTV to Launch in 22 Markets Immediately
Sixty-three TV stations across the country will launch mobile TV this year, the Open Mobile Video Coalition announced in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show there.