If you need proof that people want to watch local TV on whatever device is convenient, be it a big screen TV, laptop or smart phone, look no further than the latest business venture to allow people to access their local TV channels over the Internet. This isn't the first time a company has tried to build a business taking broadcast content they get for free over-the-air and streaming it to viewers, but these efforts often failed when broadcasters objected. Aereo says it avoids this problem by giving every subscriber their own antenna, even if the antenna is so small it can sit on finger. Aereo explains how it works on their web site. Here is their explanation:
1. "We made the TV antenna unbelievably small – So small it fits on the tip of your finger. But it still gets awesome HD reception.
2. "We connected these antennas to the Internet – We engineered a way to put tons of these antennas in data centers, along with massive amounts of storage and super-fast Internet connections.
3. "We give you control – We built a simple, elegant interface to let you control your antenna. Through the Internet. With any device you want. All without cords, cables, or boxes."
The web site says that it will be available exclusively in the New York City area. See the Aereo blog for a picture of one of their miniature antennas compared to a U.S. dime. CNET has a photo of an array of these antennas in their article Aereo brings over-the-air TV to the cloud. While these miniature antennas will intercept some energy from the NY TV stations, it is unrealistic to believe that one of them could power an individual TV tuner for a subscriber to the service. As far as I can tell, the only purpose of these miniature antennas is to get around objections by broadcasters that Aereo is a distributor of their programming and to avoid the FCC requirements placed on MVPDs.
It will be worth watching to see how well it is received. The amount of investment in this service bodes well for the future of broadcast mobile DTV efforts like Dyle TV from the Mobile Content Venture (MCV) and the Mobile 500 Alliance.
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Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.