WRAL-TV to Demo Mobile EAS

RALEIGH, N.C.—WRAL will demonstrate mobile EAS tomorrow, making it the first commercial station to light up the service. M-EAS will be able to transmit multimedia emergency messages to receivers that decode mobile DTV signals. WRAL will demo the technology this Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, “during an event attended by emergency management personnel and public officials in Raleigh,” the station said.

M-EAS differs from the 90-character text alerts available to cellphones in that it enables the transmission of video, audio, photos and graphics in addition to text.

“The potential of the system includes mobile digital television devices, cellphones, tablet computers and other devices,” WRAL’s announcement said. “This innovative technology requires no cell towers, no cellphone data plans, and no Internet access since it uses broadcast TV transmissions to reach millions of potential viewers with a single broadcast.”

However, it requires a receiver that decodes mobile DTV signals transmitted in the ATSC-M/H format. Deployment and market penetration of such receivers is limited.

LG introduced a laptop-like device two years ago. (Pictured right.) The LG DP570MH was offered though online retailers for around $250. RCA came out with a receiver last year that resembled a smartphone, but lacking in smartphone features. Transmission expert Doug Lung reviewed it for TV Technology. The most recently released device is a smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G, rolled out by MetroPCS last month. (See “Dyle Phone Hits the Market”)

The $460 Lightray will work specifically with Dyle mobile DTV—the programming brand created by the Mobile Content Venture consortium of TV stations and networks—in a limited number of markets around the country. Dyle announced yesterday that it’s developing a new rear-seat vehicle receiver system with Audiovox. Elgato makes an iPad receiver dongle for mobile DTV in Europe, but the U.S. version does not appear to be commercially available.

M-EAS has been demonstrated in the past by Public Broadcasting Service member stations KLVX-DT in Las Vegas and WGBH-TV in Boston. Both are part of a M-EAS pilot program announced last January at the Consumer Electronics Show. The service also was demonstrated for first responders at the annual Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials conference in Minneapolis last month.

M-EAS is being standardized by the Advanced Television Systems Committee as part of ATSC-M/H, which WRAL says it’s been “using for the past three years.”

The event will be lived streamed at the station’s website, WRAL.com. And tweeted live at www.wral.com/11477194 using #WRALMEAS #MDTV.
~ Deborah D. McAdams