RF Shorts-Jan. 26, 2012

Boxee Live TV Now Shipping
The huge amount of press coverage of the first shipments of Boxee Live TV indicates people are still interested in over-the-air TV, especially when combined with Internet TV, as an alternative to cable.

• Matt Burns in his techcrunch.com posting Full Circle: Boxee Brings OTA HDTV And Basic Cable To The Boxee Box, writes, "The bottom line is Boxee Live TV works. Plug in the dongle to bring live, somewhat traditional content to the Boxee Box. It's that simple. Sure, most HDTVs already have a ATSC tuner built-in but using it is often a hassle. Boxee Live TV is as easy as the rest of the media stream. The Boxee Box was already the best device to rid oneself from the chains of subscription TV. Now it's just that much better."

• Courtney Boyd Meyers describes How I spent last night playing with my Boxee Live TV on thenextweb.com. Her conclusion: "If you're anal retentive about getting crystal clear reception and hundreds of channels, don't ditch your cable service yet. But if you've been debating cutting costs and want to watch over-the-air TV from your Boxee system, for just $49, it's pretty amazing. (The entire system: the Boxee Box and the Boxee Live TV will cost you about $230.)" She was able to receive 19 off-air channels using the very basic passive antenna included with Boxee Live TV from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y.

• Mark Flacy describes How Boxee may accelerate cord cutting with the social Live TV tuner on digitaltrends.com. He sees its tie-in with social networking to be a key feature: "In terms of accelerating the progress of cord cutting within mainstream consumers, the most interesting inclusion within this update involves Facebook social account pairing and how that ties into Open Graph efforts. Once the user enables sharing through the Live TV Timeline App, Boxee Box actions are fed automatically to the Facebook Ticker as well as the Facebook Timeline. Similar to the integration used by apps like Spotify, the Facebook Ticker shows the latest show that the Boxee Box owner is watching. For instance, watching the live feed of the upcoming Super Bowl will make a status update appear within the Ticker regarding the football game."

• ZDNet's Sean Portney covered Boxee Live TV in Boxee Live TV now available – $49 dongle adds over-the-air TV to streaming device and also saw its potential for "cord cutters." "Boxee is making no bones about the fact that its new setup can give you the perfect way to avoid paying a monthly bill for cable TV, going so far as to suggest what you can purchase with your savings. The company also disclosed on its blog that it is considering adding DVR capabilities to the Boxee Box based on customer requests, and said it may announce those features later in the year."

Most of the reviewers tested Boxee Live TV with its very basic included antenna. I imagine they would have been even happier had the tried it with the Mohu Leaf or WallTenna.

Gadgeteer.com reviews WallTenna
Janet Cloninger has a very positive review of the WallTenna in her WallTenna Indoor Omni-Directional Antenna Review on the-gadgeteer.com. She discusses the signals available at her location and her decision on where to mount the antenna, in great detail. In summary, she says, "I love the WallTenna! It's small and hangs in my window, so I don't have to try to find a tabletop to set it on. It doesn't require constant adjustment for each station that I tune in, and it even gets a couple of distant stations I've never been able to receive with other indoor antennas. Reception is sharp and clear for every channel. At only $39.95, you can't go wrong with the WallTenna. That one-time charge is much cheaper than the $10 a month that adding a cable line, box, and remote would cost."

France Drops DVB-H Mobile TV Plans
BroadbandTVNews.com reported France buries its mobile TV project. Robert Briel writes "There will not be a mobile TV service using the DVB-H standard in France, according to local reports. TDF now wants to use the capacity for a new B2M (Mobile Multimedia Broadcast) service."

The French government has awarded a grant to a consortium of eight partners (Airweb, Archos, Cognac-Jay Image, DiBcom, Expway, Immanens and Institut Telecom) led by TDF, to finance 30 percent of the project.

TDF said in a statement, "This major project aims to provide players in the digital economy and the media for effective and innovative solutions for broadcasting their content on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). It will address the growing public appetite for the consumption of digital content mobility."

I did not have time to research the B2M technology to see if it is based on LTE MMBS technology but the name would imply it is.

Spectrum Space for Wireless Carriers
Brad Reed surveyed the spectrum available to the major wireless carriers and plans to deploy it in his Network World article LTE spectrum: How much do the big carriers have? 700MHz band is prime real estate but carriers also use AWS spectrum, cellular bands. In the article, he writes, "Mark Lowenstein, the managing director for consulting and advisory firm Mobile Ecosystem, says that getting significantly more spectrum would allow carriers to promote LTE not just as wireless technology for smartphones and tablets but for high-definition video services as well. Or put another way, while it would be impractical to stream Netflix movies on your Xbox using LTE right now, it might not be that impractical in the future when carriers have significantly more spectrum to play with and can thus charge less money for high data consumption."

The article doesn't see much hope for new spectrum auctions.

"But with no progress made in Congress yet on setting up spectrum auctions for wireless broadband, it seems the carriers will have to make do with what they've got for the foreseeable future," said Reed.

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.