Last week the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) announced availability of Mobile DTV Device Profiles. Release of these Profiles is important because new services are being launched that won't be compatible with older Mobile DTV receivers. The Profiles should alleviate concerns from consumers, broadcasters and device manufacturers about the ability of devices to receive new services being introduced by broadcasters. There are two Profiles: a "basic" one with support for real-time viewing of Mobile DTV broadcast content and an "enhanced" profile that includes support for many advanced features and functionality.
Today the number of ATSC Mobile DTV receive devices is limited. Popular devices include the Hauppauge Aero-M USB receiver and RCA's line of portable receivers. The Mobile Content Venture and the Mobile 500 Alliance have announced plans to introduce new Mobile DTV services across the country over the next six months. Many of these new services will use service protection; none of the devices currently available support conditional access. However, both Mobile DTV Profiles require support for conditional access. Manufacturers are required to register with a Mobile DTV Trust Authority for a unique digital certificate to be issued to each Mobile DTV receiver as it is made. This will ensure purchasers of new products that comply with the profiles will be able to receive new Mobile DTV services as they are introduced.
Broadcasting competes with online media for advertisers. The new profiles provide service and audience measurement tools that will enable broadcasters to confidentially identify channels viewed and the duration and time of viewing for TV ratings purposes, allowing them to better compete with Internet advertising. The Profiles require Mobile DTV receivers provide IP connectivity at least once every 7 days to support conditional access and collection of ratings data. The connection can occur over Wi-Fi, 2G/3G/4G networks, Bluetooth or USB.
Device manufacturers participated in development of the profiles through the Mobile DTV Forum. Dr. Jong Kim, president of the Zenith R&D Lab, said, "Receiver guidelines are vital to manufacturers in assuring that the Mobile DTV products we bring to market deliver the best consumer experience. The Device Profiles are important, because consensus among manufacturers and broadcasters about crucial features, compelling services and advanced capabilities will be a key to Mobile DTV's success going forward."
Chris Lee, VP of Sales and Marketing for Digital Stream, the licensed-manufacturer of RCA portable TV products, commented, "We believe the new Device Profiles will make the Mobile DTV viewing experience even better, with second generation products able to show subscription programming that viewers will want to watch wherever they go. Consumers who have purchased battery-powered RCA Mobile DTV products are using them now to stay connected and be prepared for emergencies."
Some of the receiver profile guidelines include tuning U.S. channels 7 to 56, main profile H264 support (higher resolution for larger screen devices such as tablets), multiple audio services (the FCC will require descriptive video services in the future), closed captioning, and support for the cell information table (allows handing off the receiver to another transmitter as a device moves out of range of the first transmitter), There are no mandatory minimum receiver performance standards but it is recommend under both profiles that devices meet or exceed the guidelines in ATSC A/174, which is still under development.
The adoption of these Mobile DTV receiver profile guidelines should help assuage manufacturers' concerns that their new devices may not be compatible with the services broadcasters are planning. The participation of device manufacturers in developing the profiles should give broadcasters some comfort that devices will be there when they roll out mobile TV broadcasts with service protection and other advanced features.
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