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Over the Air Mobile DTV Launched

ION Media announced today that they have initiated over the air mobile DTV broadcasts in New York City and Washington, D.C. The launch marks what broadcasters hope is a new and lucrative terrestrial datacasting service.

The signals are transmitting over-the-air from ION stations WPXN, Channel 31 in New York City and WPXW in the Washington, D.C. DMA. In April, the Open Mobile Video Coalition—an organization of broadcasters and manufacturers promoting an over the air mobile DTV standard—announced that tests for the standard, which is being voted on by the ATSC, would commence in Washington D.C. this summer. ION owns more than 60 stations nationwide.

Other participants in the D.C. area tests include Fox Television Stations’ WDCA-DT, Gannett Broadcasting’s WUSA-DT, NBC Universal’s WRC-DT, PBS’ WHUT-DT and MHz Networks, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s operated WNUV-DT and National Datacast, a for-profit subsidiary of PBS. Almost 80 stations nationwide have signed up to test mobile DTV signals. Four TV stations in Atlanta and Seattle will become model stations for technical research and development of device interoperability.

For the time being, it's unknown who can receive the signals beyond industry insiders. Several devices for receiving the mobile DTV signals (aka “ATSC-MH) were announced at the NAB Show in April, including cell phones from LG Electronics and Samsung, an LG DVD player an in-car receiver from Kenwood and a Dell netbook. LG is one of the developers of ATSC-M/H.

ION said that WPXN is transmitting its mobile stream alongside the station’s HD signal and two multicast channels. The in-band signal has additional formatting that allows it to be picked up by mobile receivers.

“The launch of ION’s Mobile DTV signals in NYC and D.C. is a pay-off from the industry’s efforts to create a unifying technology standard,” said Brett Jenkins, ION’s vice president of technology. “The Mobile DTV eco system has now developed to the point that broadcasters are able to launch beta services, and we’re beginning to think through consumer and business implementations. The work of the Open Mobile Video Coalition and its broadcast members have made this implementation possible, and we look forward to working with the industry to capitalize on its potential."