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Mobile DTV Field Trails Successful In Chicago, Denver

Chicago — Members of the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) said two of its member networks — FOX and ION Media — conducted successful field trials of the basic component of what will be the ATSC Mobile DTV standard in Chicago last week as ION also ran tests in the Denver area.

In Chicago the field trials used two simultaneous transmissions of the LG/Harris-developed MPH system, which will serve as the backbone of the completed standard after a hybrid form is created next year using components from Samsung’s system.

The stations that ran the tests included ION’s WCPX affiliate and Fox’s WPWR. The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) Mobile DTV Standard will enable local broadcasters to deliver live, local and national over-the-air digital television to consumers via next-generation mobile devices.

The OMVC, which is an alliance of broadcasters whose mission is to accelerate the development of mobile digital television in the United States, expects the first handheld devices (such as mobile phones) incorporating mobile DTV receivers will be available in the second half of 2009.

The coalition is composed of 20 members that own and operate more than 450 commercial television stations, as well as the Association of Public Television Stations, which represents an additional 360 public television stations. Members are committed to open competition in the development of products and services related to television.

“The OMVC is inspired by the leadership of its members and their commitment to mobile DTV. Both WCPX and WPWR have demonstrated the successful integration of the proposed ATSC Mobile DTV standard,” said Anne Schelle, OMVC executive director. “With ATSC Mobile DTV ready to be deployed, consumers can have access to live broadcast content anytime, anywhere.”

Executives of the stations said their tests included reception of the signals using handheld devices in side cars traveling at up to 70 mph. Signals were said to be clear and stable in most conditions, with certain exceptions, such as a test of reception inside certain steel encased structures such as warehouses. In some cases in the Denver tests, certain areas of mountainous terrain could break up reception, the testers said.

The emerging ATSC Mobile DTV standard aligns with broadcasters’ objective to provide viable, consumer-friendly mobile DTV services in 2009. It is a robust and flexible standard that supports both early demonstrations and fully developed implementations. In addition, the ATSC Mobile DTV standard, which is expected to be adopted as an ATSC Candidate Standard by early December and a final standard by early summer, offers consumer electronics device manufacturers and automakers with a value proposition: the opportunity to capture a major share of an untapped market and a rapid development time.

“As we forge ahead with our shared objective of launching mobile DTV services in 2009, the standard has proven to meet the challenges of such complex terrain as Chicago. We look forward to actualizing the mobile broadcast platform and providing consumers with real-time, full motion television — traditional, broadcast and network TV content,” commented Brandon Burgess, OMVC President and ION Media Networks Chairman and CEO.

“The positive results of OMVC members’ testing in Chicago speak volumes,” stated Patrick Mullen, OMVC Executive Committee member and WPWR VP and general manager. “We now have evidence that the ATSC Mobile DTV Standard is appropriate for widespread adoption in order to bring live and local television broadcasting to the mobile market.”

In addition to the Chicago and Denver trials, field trials were conducted in July 2008 in the Raleigh-Durham television market sponsored by WRAL and the CBC New Media Group in cooperation with LG Electronics, Zenith and Harris Corporation. In August, Sinclair Broadcast Group ran a technical field trial using the ATSC Mobile DTV service with WBFF, its Fox-affiliated television station in Baltimore, Md. In addition to its Chicago testing, ION Media has been conducting mobile DTV trials in the Denver area with its KPXC station since October. The broadcaster ascertained that multiple high-quality programs can be reliably delivered on mobile devices at varying speeds.

Broadcasters expect to use the ATSC mobile DTV system to develop mobile DTV services enabling consumers to access local news, weather and traffic information as well as national sports events and entertainment programs. Viewers will be able to choose from a variety of programs just as they would do with cable, satellite or IPTV services from home. The mobile DTV signal will be transmitted along with a station’s regular DTV broadcasts. The mobile signals will be offered in standard definition and will not interfere with a station’s ability to offer multicast services.