[opendtv] Hurdles still loom as TV stations start mobile field trials

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 10:13:40 -0500

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.

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