Hurdles still loom as TV stations start mobile field trials Rick Merritt, Junko Yoshida (01/14/2008 9:00 AM EST) URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=205602873 Las Vegas -- A broad group of local television stations will start technical field trials of three competing mobile broadcasting technologies next month. But Hollywood executives said they will need to negotiate content rights before broadcasters turn on commercial systems that will serve cell phones and other mobile devices. Backers of competing technologies cranked up the volume at the Consumer Electronics Show in their efforts to be selected as the mobile broadcasting standard. Rivals LG Electronics and Samsung showed working prototypes based on chips they are now sampling. Thomson and partner Micronas are scrambling to deliver working chips and systems for a third proposal before the trials end in March. The technologies aim to let TV stations use existing digital spectrum and towers to deliver video and data services competing with mobile TV and cellular networks. Their goal is to go live with the services in February 2009, about the time they must close down TV broadcasting on their old analog spectrum. "Mobile broadcasting will be the application that brings viewers back to the local TV stations," said Howard Lance, chief executive of Harris Corp., who said his company will ship by September back-end RF systems supporting LG technology. As many as 10 initial proposals to the Advanced Television Systems Committee have been condensed to three major efforts, said Mark Aitken, director of advanced technology at Sinclair Broadcast Group, who chairs the ATSC. The committee could start defining a standard in time for the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in mid-April. ATSC will evaluate the best physical, management and applications layer technologies. "The first decision will be to define a physical layer," Aitken said. LG and Harris demonstrated their Mobile Pedestrian Handheld (MPH) technology at CES and have conducted field trials in Chicago and Washington, D.C. The chip sets consume an average of 200 mW, enabling at least four hours of TV viewing, Woo Paik, LG's chief technology officer, said at CES. The competing advanced vestigial sideband (A-VSB) system from Samsung, announced more than a year ago, has been in field trials longer, said John Godfrey, who heads the Samsung effort, backed by Nokia Siemens Networks and Rohde & Schwarz. A Samsung engineer said that the company's current A-VSB chip sets for mobile systems consume 500 mW on average but that a second generation, due later this year, could fall to as low as 100 mW. Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast technology for Harris, estimated it would cost a typical TV station about $125,000 to install a two-channel MPH service. Samsung's Godfrey said it could cost less than $100,000 to install an A-VSB system delivering more than six channels. While technical evaluations get under way, business negotiations are not yet on the horizon. A group of Hollywood studio executives queried at CES generally agreed that broadcasters lack the rights in their existing contracts to send their content to mobile devices. "I would bet in most cases there will need to be separate negotiations," said Tom Lesinski, president of Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment. Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney-ABC Television Group, agreed that local TV stations do not have mobile broadcasting rights. Dan Fawcett, president of digital media for Fox Entertainment, said he was not sure. The executives said they are experimenting with mobile services in several forms as a way to expand their fledgling digital businesses. All material on this site Copyright 2008 CMP Media LLC. All rights reserved ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.