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LG & Samsung Team On Mobile DTV Standard

The contest for selection of the nation’s digital television transmission system for mobile reception appeared to be over after rivals LG and Samsung said they will cooperate on a jointly developed mobile DTV broadcast system for the North American technology standard.

The two companies had been engaged in a fierce contest to have their rival mobile DTV systems accepted for the U.S. standard. Both systems — LG’s MPH and Samsung’s A-VSB — had been demonstrated at recent trade shows including the National Association of Broadcasters Convention and International CES.

To celebrate the cooperative agreement, Samsung and LG held a signing ceremony at Seoul Plaza Hotel, here, last week, with LG’s president and chief technology officer Woo Paik, and Samsung’s digital media business president JongWoo Park presiding.

The companies vowed to “cooperate in order to assure rapid adoption by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) of a single common in-band mobile DTV standard,” according to a statement announcing the decision.

Company executives downplayed industry speculation that the highly unusual cooperative effort between the two South Korean rivals resulted from increased traction of Qualcomm’s MediaFLO mobile video transmission system that is used to deliver premium content by more and more mobile phone carriers.

“We have believed all along that the in-band ATSC solution can be very complementary to other mobile DTV approaches, so we could envision devices that would incorporate both MediaFLO and ATSC-MPH, for example,” John Taylor, LGE USA public affairs and communications senior VP, told TWICE. “The collective goal with our broadcaster friends has been to create a robust mobile DTV market as quickly as possible.”

A joining of the systems had received strong support and encouragement from the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), a group of manufacturers and broadcasters promoting the adoption of a mobile DTV system.

Taylor said it is still too early to speak about the specific applications that forthcoming mobile DTV devices might offer using the joint system.

Technology for the jointly proposed system will reflect the findings of the Independent Demonstration of Viability (IDOV) conducted by the Association of Maximum Service Television (MSTV) on behalf of the OMVC.

A report on IDOV will be submitted by the OMVC to the ATSC. The OMVC is a group of U.S. broadcasters who are vigorously promoting the development and early deployment of mobile DTV.

The companies said the joint mobile DTV solution will use the existing terrestrial digital TV broadcast bandwidth, with no impact on existing digital TV and with minimum broadcasting equipment investment.

“LG and Samsung are already world-class in digital TV and mobile communications,” said LG’s Paik. “Through this collaboration, we also have an opportunity to lead the North American mobile DTV market.”

Paik added, “Our collaboration on North American mobile DTV standardization will help accelerate the ATSC standardization of mobile TV technology, which will benefit both consumers and broadcasters.”

ATSC is expected to adopt the mobile/handheld DTV standard for the North American market in early 2009 following trials of the technology by the OMV.

The companies cited a recent study commissioned by the NAB that indicated the adoption of a single ATSC mobile/handheld DTV standard could open the U.S. market to adoption for some 130 million mobile DTV phones by the end of 2012, with the market for portable media device mobile DTV receivers growing to include an additional 25 million units.

Plans call for a major consumer trial later this year using multiple broadcasters in a market transmitting mobile DTV signals for reception on hundreds of devices, including mobile phones, in-car solutions, notebook PCs, portable DTVs and a range of different devices that will help test some of the possible mobile DTV business models, Taylor said.

The system is not expected to support mobile HD broadcasts, since most reception devices will have screen sizes ranging from 4 inches to 8 inches. The mobile DTV system will use a small portion of the ATSC bandwidth in a broadcaster’s signal piggybacked on top of the regular HD, ED and multicast signals, to deliver a more robust transmission solution for mobile reception.

Meanwhile, Harris, a supplier of DTV infrastructure equipment in the United States, which partnered with LG in developing transmission systems for the MPH proposal, said it plans to introduce the first full mobile digital TV transmission solution to meet the combined mobile DTV solution.

The Harris solution, which will be introduced in November 2008, will enable television broadcasters to quickly begin the transition to mobile digital television (DTV), the company said.