Washington - In what is hoped to be a move to spur renewed development of Mobile DTV broadcasts and receiving devices, the Open Mobile Video Coalition (
) issued Thursday comprehensive device profile guidelines to assist manufacturers in developing next-generation Mobile DTV products.
The profiles are baseline technical guidelines that give manufacturers details about how broadcasters will implement new services gated by new conditional access security mechanisms requiring some form of Internet back-channel connection. Two groups of broadcasters have requested the conditional access technology be placed in Mobile DTV devices in order to evaluate program viewership and eventually deliver pay-TV services, to better monetize their investments.
To date, only about 100 broadcasters out of 1,500 commercial TV stations across the country have started broadcasting Mobile DTV services. Mobile DTV advocates believe that more will follow once they feel they can derive incremental revenue gain from the services.
The Mobile DTV device profiles were developed jointly by the OMVC's Mobile DTV Forum, which represents consumer device and broadcast equipment manufacturers and software and middleware providers, and the OMVC's technology advisory group, which is made up of broadcasters from member companies.
"As the concept of Mobile Digital Television becomes a commercial reality, consumer electronics manufacturers need guidelines on receiver device features and functionalities that will provide robust reception capability and interoperability with broadcasters," said Anne Schelle, OMVC executive director. "The end goal is an enjoyable and secure Mobile DTV experience for our viewers. We are looking forward to the introduction of both new programming options and new personal devices that will take full advantage of the Mobile DTV standard."
Later this fall, Schelle said, the OMVC will initiate a model conditional access system in the Washington D.C. market, to enable electronics companies to test their receiver implementations that receive, decode, and display Mobile DTV broadcast signals.
"Conditional access is a control system to protect content from viewing by unauthorized parties, to permit robust audience measurement and to enable potential subscription services," Schelle explained. "Mobile DTV content will be a combination of free viewing and paid viewing."
The guidelines present manufacturers with two profiles of "likely configurations" using the conditional access enhancements.
Both address elements that the OMVC said it believes are crucial to Mobile DTV success: the addition of conditional access, service/audience measurement and IP connectivity.
One profile represents a basic Mobile DTV receiver that can receive broadcast transmissions and is interoperable with real-time linear Mobile DTV broadcast services received by mobile devices.
A second profile is more advanced, with an enhanced Mobile DTV receiver that includes all the basic elements plus many of the advanced features and functionalities that consumers are expected to embrace -- such as the ability to watch subscription programs while "on the go."
Because the OMVC anticipates some Mobile DTV services will use service protection, both profiles require support for conditional access. In both cases, manufacturer registration with a
is required so that unique digital certificates (or encryption keys) can be issued to each Mobile DTV receiver as it is made.
To date, broadcasters have only been able to make decisions with audience estimates based on sampling techniques. With the new profiles, Mobile DTV's new service and audience measurement tools will enable broadcasters to identify which channels are viewed and the duration and time of viewing for TV ratings purposes.
To facilitate operation of the conditional access system and the transmission of service and audience data, the Mobile DTV receiver must offer IP connectivity at least once every seven days. This can occur over a wired Internet connection; via Wi-Fi; over a 2G, 3G or 4G cellphone transmission; or via USB or Bluetooth connection.
"Receiver guidelines are vital to manufacturers in assuring that the Mobile DTV products we bring to market deliver the best consumer experience," stated LG Electronics' Dr. Jong Kim, president of the Zenith R&D lab. "The device profiles are important because consensus among manufacturers and broadcasts about crucial features, compelling services and advanced capabilities will be a key to Mobile DTV's success going forward." LG Electronics' Mobile DTV chips are now in a number of commercially available Mobile DTV products."
"We see tremendous value in standardizing the way devices and receivers should behave in the field, ensuring the best possible user experience," added Itzik Klein, Siano Mobile Silicon marketing director. Siano is one of the companies providing Mobile DTV chipsets. "We were privileged to actively contribute to the formalization of the device profiles and we look forward to working with the OMVC on promoting the adoption of Mobile DTV in the U.S."
"We believe the new device profiles will make the Mobile DTV viewing experience even better, with second-generation products able to show subscription programming that viewers will want to watch wherever they go. Consumers who have purchased battery-powered RCA Mobile DTV products are using them now to stay connected and be prepared for emergencies," said Chris Lee, Digital Stream (RCA portable TV brand licensee) sales and marketing VP.