Dallas - Regional prepaid carrier MetroPCS launched the first cellphone in the U.S. to receive free live mobile-DTV broadcasts transmitted by local TV stations under the
MetroPCS has begun offering the handset in the 15 markets where it operates its cellular network, although TV stations in 35 markets have adopted the Dyle brand. Handset distribution is through company-owned stores and authorized independent retailers in the 15 markets as well as through the carrier's website. Potential plans for distribution through national retailers in those markets haven't been disclosed.
Dyle TV was established by the Mobile Content Venture (MCV), a joint venture of 12 major broadcast groups that have adopted the industry-standard ATSC-M/H format for mobile-DTV broadcasting. Members broadcast free ATSC-M/H programming using proprietary encryption, but the Dyle-compatible phone will also receive unencrypted ATSC-M/H broadcasts if available.
Eventually, Dyle TV plans to offer a mix of free and subscription-based programming.
In MetroPCS's 15 markets, 46 TV stations are broadcasting Dyle-compatible programs. In the 35 markets where Dyle members operate, 92 stations are broadcasting, reaching 53 percent of the U.S. population.
The Dyle-compatible phone is the $459 Samsung's Galaxy S Lightray 4G, an Android 2.3 smartphone with 4G LTE service. It can be paired with no-contract cellular rate plans starting at $40/month. Key features include a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, 1GHz processor, 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting and mobile hot spot. The phone is MetroPCS's first phone with LTE hot-spot capability.
Dyle TV features include electronic program guide and a signal-strength meter. The phone doesn't include live-pause or time-shifting capabilities like a DVR, but the group is considering these features in future products, MetroPCS said.
As for promoting the phone, the spokesman said the handset "will appeal to our customers, and we will put sufficient efforts behind the launch to ensure that the phone is visible when customers are shopping online or in stores."
MetroPCS's 15 metro markets, which comprise 11,000 cities and towns, are: Atlanta; Boston; Hartford, Conn.; Dallas/Fort Worth; Detroit; Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles , San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.; New York and Philadelphia.
In select MetroPCS markets, up to five stations will transmit their free over-the-air mobile DTV broadcasts for viewing on the smartphone. (A Dyle coverage map is available at www.dyle.tv/using-dyle/coverage-map/.)
Two other Dyle-TV-compatible receivers have also been announced for shipment this year but aren't yet available. Computer accessories supplier Elgato plans a dongle that lets users view Dyle-branded mobile DTV service on a connected iPhone or iPad. Accessories supplier Belkin also announced a dongle for iPhones and iPads. The Belkin and Elgato dongles plug into the 30-pin port on an iPhone or iPad.