A fast-track effort by broadcasters, transmission vendors and consumer electronics manufacturers to create a technical standard for transmitting digital TV signals to cellphones and other mobile devices has come to fruition, with the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) announcing Oct. 16 that it has approved the ATSC Mobile DTV Standard.
ATSC said the mobile DTV standard --formally known as A/153 and also referred to as ATSC-Mobile/Handheld (ATSC-M/H) -- received "overwhelming support" in balloting by its full membership tallied at midnight on Oct. 15. The formal approval of the standard, which has been circulating in preliminary form since last November, should pave the way for mobile DTV receivers to hit retail shelves next year.
Racing Toward a Standard
Development of the standard officially began in May 2007, when the ATSC released a request for proposals (RFP), and in terms of standard-setting work, it has progressed at record pace since then. Mobile DTV insiders give much of the credit to the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), a group of roughly 800 local stations that has worked hand-in-hand with the ATSC to drive the process with the goal of having a working standard this year.
Part of the OMVC's motivation to get mobile DTV launched in 2009 was the turnoff of analog high-powered signals and reclaiming of that broadcast spectrum by the FCC, which has auctioned it off to telcos, satellite operators and others intent on launching new wireless services. Broadcasters, who already face competition in the mobile TV space from Qualcomm's FLO TV subscription-based service, want to get a jump on those new entrants' video plans.