Mobile DTV arrives!

Yes, mobile DTV has been around for a while, starting with Samsung's demonstration of A-VSB at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in 2006 and continuing with dueling demo buses touting the benefits of Samsung and Rohde and Schwarz based A-VSB versus the LG/Harris MPH system at NAB 2007 and 2008. Thanks to the efforts of OMVC and OTAG and work by ATSC, a unified ATSC mobile standard, A/153 was finalized in October 2010. While many stations around the country began mobile DTV broadcasts, receiver options were limited. It wasn't until 2012 with the launch of Dyle TV by the Mobile Content Venture and the inclusion of a mobile DTV receiver in the MetroPCS Samsung Lightray smart phone that mobile DTV became a commercial reality. In November Elgato released the EyeTV mobile tuner for iPad and iPhones.

There is still work to be done before mobile DTV can be considered a commercial success. Early reviews of the devices had few complaints about reception, but many complaints about the limited number of channels involved. Reviewers also didn't like the extra antenna on the Lightray and the need to use an adapter with the EyeTV mobile tuner to connect it to the new smaller Apple connector. Picture quality didn't appear to be an issue with the Lightray but when the 416x240 base profile video was expanded to fill the iPad's screen compression artifacts and the lack of resolution became more noticeable. A/153 allows for higher resolution and increasing the data rate will reduce compression artifacts. The challenge will be finding the extra bandwidth for higher data rates without impacting station's main HD and multicast channels. The antenna issues may be aided through the use of tunable antennas. The growing number of bands now being used for smartphones and tablets has resulted in more research going into this area, as outlined the FCC forum on spectrum proliferation.

>We should get a glimpse of the next generation of ATSC mobile DTV devices soon at CES 2013 for both Dyle and MyDTV.

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.