On the heels of the Federal Communications Commission's delivery of a national broadband plan this week, the Open Mobile Video Coalition (
) issued a white paper study this week on the burgeoning mobile DTV market.
Not surprisingly, the study showed the system to be the most efficient means of reaching millions of viewers at once with critical news and events coverage.
The OMVC, which represents nearly 900 broadcast TV stations as part of its constituency, called Mobile DTV "a critical ingredient" for informing and entertaining all Americans, in the wake of a proposal to take another portion of broadcast spectrum away from TV broadcasters to help fulfill the FCC's broadband goals.
"The key strength of any local TV broadcaster is that station's ability to respond quickly to live events and to reach millions of viewers with a single digital broadcast transmission -- a system designed to enable fast, easy, and robust reception in viewer's homes. Now that digital TV broadcasting is going mobile, we strongly believe that Mobile DTV is a key ingredient in the nation's drive to deliver timely news, information and entertainment to our country's citizens. And it's even faster, more reliable and more scalable than information routed through the Internet," stated Brandon Burgess, OMVC president and ION Media Networks chairman and CEO.
The group also pointed out that FCC's "Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan"
report notes that "emerging broadcast applications, such as mobile DTV and data casting, may provide an opportunity to take advantage of the relative efficiencies of point-to-multipoint and point-to-point architectures in order to deliver various types of content in the most spectrum-efficient ways."
The group said broadcasting the signals is the best way to ensure important live news and data casts are delivered to mobile end-users without the hiccups and hang-ups that can come with congested broadband and 3G cellular connections.
Mobile DTV is delivered utilizing the same infrastructure as over-the-air broadcasts for home televisions, with special enhancements made to allow viewing on mobile devices. The technology has even been tested in trains moving more than 150 miles per hour, with robust reception of transmitted signals.
Forty-five U.S. broadcast stations are already sending Mobile DTV signals and hundreds more are expected to sign on with mobile service in the coming months.
The technology's potential to unlock new sources of information for viewers and new viewers for broadcasters is underscored in a new white paper just issued by IDC. Mobile DTV has the potential to expand the reach of broadcast TV while simultaneously relieving data networks that are overburdened with ever-growing demands for video content. "Mobile DTV is a cultural and technical extension of digital over-the-air broadcasting and is a spectrum-efficient technology to deliver hugely popular content. But more than this, Mobile DTV allows consumers to also receive local channels, programming, and advertising, as well as relevant local and national news, emergency information, weather and other alerts. Like over-the-air broadcasting, Mobile DTV easily makes possible a one-to-many broadcast that instantaneously can reach millions of viewers," said Danielle Levitas, group VP of IDC's consumer, broadband and digital Marketplace team.
In the report, IDC notes that local TV broadcasting service is an integral part of our nation's wireless ecosystem. Free and local broadcast television delivers services -- such as local news programming -- that are critical to creating a sense of community and that no other video medium provides. Essentially all consumers, whether they receive their broadcast stations for free over the air or through pay television service, depend on their broadcast stations for local programming.
"We see Mobile DTV starting as a free service, delivering broadcast channels to viewers on the go. But the upside potential is even more interesting, because the technology can support subscription services to premium channels, a la carte access to other media, cached recording, localized and targeted advertising, and more -- especially when Mobile DTV is paired with great mobile devices like netbooks and in-car entertainment systems," Levitas said.
The IDC white paper predicts that the number of broadcasters transmitting with the new Mobile DTV standard will more than quadruple this year to 150 stations throughout the country, from 45 today.
Consumer electronics companies this year have already announced more than 20 new products that are poised for retail introduction as broadcasters sign on-the-air with Mobile DTV.
IDC reports that video viewing on mobile phones is still in its infancy. The research firm makes clear that "in IDC's past two annual mobile entertainment surveys, we have found the percentage of mobile phone owners that regularly or at least once in the three prior months view TV/video on their phone to be 2.5 percent to 5 percent of respondents."
Of 7,000 consumers recently queried for IDCs ConsumerScape 360 at the end of 2009, "only 2 percent reported watching premium content/TV on their phones within the prior month. Even if we assume the data to be underreported, it clearly is in its early stages."