MPH mobile tests successful in windy city

LG Electronics and Harris announced that their Mobile-Pedestrian-Handheld (MPH) in-band mobile digital television (DTV) system has been successfully broadcast throughout the Chicago media market in an extensive six-week field trial. The MPH format sends terrestrial DTV signals over the air to mobile phones and other portable devices.

The hope is that consumers with MPH-compatible systems will want to watch programming from local broadcasters on their cell phones and even when traveling in fast-moving vehicles. The latter has intrigued carmakers, which now offer in-car DVD systems. For broadcasters, this new technology promises to create new revenue streams.

The Chicago field trials were conducted from Nov. 12 through Dec. 21, 2007, with a local affiliate, whose DTV signals originated from a digital transmitter located atop the Sears Tower. According to those involved with the tests, the signals were received and displayed in test vans traveling at 55 mph throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Two mobile MPH streams (at two bit rates) were transmitted simultaneously, along with the station’s main DTV channel. A 7in untuned whip antenna was used, and reliable MPH signals were received as far away as 30 miles from the Sears Tower transmitter.

LG Electronics president and CTO Dr. Woo Paik said that thousands of measurements were recorded in the Chicago test to prove that MPH is reliable. MPH technology delivered satisfactory reception in downtown areas and even among tall buildings.

The MPH system leverages Harris’ expertise in broadcast systems — including transmitters, exciters, encoders and software — and LG Electronics’ integrated circuit design and consumer electronics experience.

The in-band mobile DTV technology — under development for more than two years at the LG Electronics DTV laboratory in Seoul, South Korea, and LG’s Zenith lab near Chicago — builds on two key ATSC standards also developed by Zenith: the Enhanced VSB (E-VSB) system and 8-VSB.

The goal of the joint development effort is to develop an ATSC-compatible mobile solution for local broadcasters to maximize the use of their 6MHz, 19.39Mb/s digital signals.

At the recent CES convention, LG Electronics showed a series of products, including mobile phones, laptop PCs, a portable navigation device with a 4in widescreen display. All of the products included reception chips necessary to receive local TV stations’ DTV broadcasts.

For in-car systems developed by CE manufacturer Kenwood, the MPH solution includes audio compression technology from Neural Audio that enables high-quality music and sound to be delivered at bit rates lower than 72kb/s. Neural has teamed up with VoiceAge in Montreal, Canada, to develop the Neural-AMR-WB+ system, which includes THX encoded surround-sound capability.

At CES, the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) said it will conduct tests of the competing in-band mobile broadcasting systems — MPH and Samsung/Rohde & Schwarz’s A-VSB system — using spectrum provided by SES Americom. OMVC member station groups in Las Vegas and San Francisco will conduct the testing.

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