Skip to main content

Mobile TV signals provide more than just video entertainment

One way to look at the history of the Internet is as a history of people inventing an ever-increasing number of uses for it, far beyond the intentions of its original designers.

Likewise, digital and mobile TV offer similar opportunities for outside-the-box thinkers. One of those thinkers is Mountain View, CA-based Rosum, which uses TV signals — digital, mobile and even analog — for its location positioning systems.

Founded by some of the original GPS system architects, the six-year-old startup's positioning solutions use the timing information from the TV signal for positioning — sometimes in conjunction with other systems like GPS — and tuners, receivers, antennas and servers already in place. All that's added is Rosum's positioning software at the broadcaster's end. The positioning doesn't even require a signal that's strong enough to be viewed.

Using TV signal positioning for location-based services has several compelling advantages, says Rosum VP of marketing Todd Young.

First, the infrastructure is already in place, and it's distributed and robust — perfect for must-work location-based services such as 911. Second, the signals are abundant, powerful, low-power and cover diverse frequencies. They also penetrate walls, automobiles and city buildings, delivering positioning information indoors where GPS satellite signals don't work well.

"Mobile TV networks can serve as dual-use location infrastructure, supporting applications such as people tracking, public safety tracking, geo-targeted emergency alerts and E911," Young said.

In the last year, Rosum has signed deals that will put the company's TV signal technology into several location-based services including defense navigation systems, femtocells and mobile devices. And last June, the company successfully completed a DVB-H positioning trial in the UK with transmission infrastructure company National Grid Wireless.

The growing penetration of TV-enabled handsets (Juniper Research forecasts that by 2012, 330 million mobile subscribers worldwide will have them) plus the pressure for mobile advertising to demonstrate results could add up to be the perfect storm for Rosum.

According to Young, not only can local broadcasters extend their traditional ad-supported business model to mobile receivers like cell phones, notebooks and vehicles, they can also offer new, highly targeted mobile advertising opportunities. Location-based broadcasting can benefit every part of the value chain.

“Our business is focused on the design, deployment and operation of large-scale transmission networks," said Jim Colby, National Grid Wireless' director of network operations and engineering. "This is especially true because of the technology’s fit with broadcast networks and, in particular, DVB-H-based networks. Rosum’s technology could provide an important value-add service, as well as an additional revenue stream, to the network rollout business model."

For more information, visit