TV-Tuning Phones To Hit With MetroPCS-Dyle Deal

DALLAS, NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES: A group of broadcasters promoting mobile DTV got in front of the annual Consumer Electronics Show news barrage by announcing a deal that will make the service a legitimate contender for mobile video eyeballs. Mobile Content Venture agreed to provide its Dyle-branded broadcast signals to MetroPCS, with Samsung Mobile providing receiver-enabled smartphones.

MetroPCS will become the first wireless service provider to offer any type of over-the-air mobile DTV, as well as MCV’s line-up from NBC, Fox, ION and nine station groups. The carrier provides no-contract, unlimited flat-rate service, and is the nation’s fifth largest, with 9.1 million subscribers as of Sept. 30, 2011. It said the Android-powered, Dyle-enabled smartphone would be available later this year. The device is reported to be LTE-capable, have an extendable antenna and a 4.3-inch active-matrix organic light-emitting diode screen. Pricing was not indicated.

Dyle will launch as a free service on MetroPCS networks in 72 cities in 32 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit, Miami, San Francisco and others. It will be encrypted, available only through a downloadable app, meaning the 1,300 or so stations not affiliated with the MVC will not be assessable should they fire up mobile DTV signals. MCV members include the aforementioned networks along with Univision and Telemundo; and TV station groups Belo, Cox, E.W. Scripps, Gannett, Hearst, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek and Raycom--with a total of around 313 full-power TV stations.

Another mobile DTV consortium, the Mobile500 Alliance, comprises around 420 stations whose signals will not be available on Dyle. It was formed in 2010 after MCV announced at the NAB tradeshow in April--by station groups excluded from the venture. While both have members belonging to a third, over-arching group--the 900-station Open Mobile Video Coalition--both have distinct business plans.

Both intended to launch by the end of 2011, and while around 100 stations across the country are broadcasting mobile DTV signals, only a handful of standalone receivers have been introduced. It was clear to MCV executives they would have to do a deal with a cellphone service provider to get receivers into the market. MCV also favored conditional-access subscription model, which was not supported by all broadcasters. Many thought it wouldn’t get off the ground if it weren’t universally available and free.

MCV moved ahead, tapping Nagra-Kudelski for encryption technology and MobiTV for consumer applications. The group also cut deals with Dell and Samsung for devices incorporating that technology. The Mobile500 revealed plans last June to launch two or three local channels by the fourth quarter of last year, but no announcements have been made since.

MetroPCS, MCV and Samsung Mobile will be demonstrating Dyle service at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Jan. 10-13.

~ Deborah D. McAdams