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Report Says ATSC-M H Behind Schedule

An update to a research report by market research firm TeleAnalytics includes a warning to broadcasters considering launching Mobile DTV services.

According to a short summary in "Making Mobile DTV Pay" [PDF], the company says "ATSC-M/H may have to one way or another clear the CA [conditional access] issue before device availability improves. According to Harris, only 200 ATSC-M/H devices were available at the end of October in the whole of the United States. The window of opportunity for either network is not going to be open forever and both have to figure out how to ride the waves that the U.S. iPhone-mania, the Convergent and Wi-Fi Mobile Personal Video and the Hulus/Comcasts of the world created."

The TeleAnalytics summary doesn't mention it, but the main reason very few ATSC-M/H receivers exist today is that ATSC mobile DTV standard was not finalized until Oct. 16, 2009. The early units referred to in the TeleAnalytics study were prototypes.

Without considering the conditional access issue, I don't think the ATSC mobile DTV roll-out is as far behind as the TeleAnalytics report might suggest. The ATSC moved very quickly to get the final standard released. Receivers are being manufactured now for the ATSC mobile DTV standard, with the first units released to be offered as part of the OMVC consumer test going on in Washington D.C.

You can expect to see ATSC mobile DTV USB dongles for use with laptop computers, as well as netbook computers with built-in mobile DTV capability, handheld receivers and add-on devices for use with the iPhone and possibly other portable media players. As noted elsewhere in this RF Report, we should see an in-car tuner for ATSC mobile DTV as early as next month.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.