RF Shorts for Feb. 8, 2013

Techzone360 Writer Offers Opinion on Smartphone Radio/TV Tuners

For broadcasters, it’s obvious that smartphones should be able to receive broadcast signals––at least FM, and ideally TV as well. Joan Engebretson offers her opinions in Radio and TV Tuners Come to Smartphones and Tablets on TechZone360.com. She reports on Sprint's plan to allow customers to listen to local FM radio station broadcasts on certain smartphones (many already have that capability because customers in countries where wireless carriers don't subsidize phones insist on it). She also notes that Escort is now selling dongles that allow mobile TV reception on iPhones, iPads or the iPod Touch.

“People who store music on their smartphones can already plug the device into their sound systems on later-model vehicles––and if we get to a point where smartphones routinely come with built-in radio tuners, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that manufacturers might start leaving radios out of their vehicles,” said Engebretson. “And considering that smartphones already have a built-in clock, it seems like it wouldn’t be difficult for them to enable a built-in radio tuner to wake users up to their favorite station.”

On the TV side of things, she mused: “I’m wondering, though, if the Escort device might fit somehow into the video cord cutting trend. There are a small but growing number of people who would like to eliminate their cable or satellite TV bill by relying on a combination of streaming video and traditional over-the-air broadcast TV. But the switch to broadcast TV isn’t always as easy as one might expect, because many homeowners long ago disconnected their rooftop antenna (if they ever had one) and today’s televisions typically don’t come with old-fashioned rabbit ear antennas.”

She added: “It’s not clear, of course, whether Dyle TV is going to succeed. But if it does the nascent TV antenna renaissance could be over before it starts. And if manufacturers and wireless carriers get creative about giving some type of wake-up functionality to smartphones with NextRadio-type tuners, we just might see radios added to Accenture’s endangered device list.”

In my opinion, the limited resolution of today's mobile TV devices would seem to limit their usefulness as a cord-cutting device in the home. That could change, should broadcasters make the move to a new transmission standard that would allow robust delivery of HD content to smartphones and tablets.

Comments and RF-related news items are welcome. Email me at dlung@transmitter.com

Doug Lung

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.