Panels, papers, prototypes and ready-to-go technology exhibits on the emerging broadcast mobile market will be a big part of next week's NAB Show in Las Vegas. Says ATSC's Jerry Whitaker, "This is the year that broadcast stations want to put mobile on the air and are indeed acting on that.”
Mobile DTV Will Be Everywhere At NAB Show
Broadcasters led by NBC and Fox have promised to launch commercial mobile DTV service in the U.S. by the end of this year. And that ambition is reflected in the agenda and exhibition of the NAB Show, which open a week-long run in Las Vegas on April 9.
Experts will weigh in on a range of mobile DTV issues — from how to implement it to how to enhance it to how to make money from it.
At the heart of the mobile DTV agenda is a Super Session — “Mobile TV: A Path to the Future” — slated for Monday, April 11, at 2:30 p.m. in Room S222.
“We will look at several areas of mobile TV,” said Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications, who will moderate. “We’ll look for a revenue model — a business model for it. Whether it uses advertising or is paid for by consumers. We will look at how broadcasting competes with other wireless Internet services including apps for broadcasters.”
Arlen said stations that already offer branded mobile iPad and iPhone apps for their viewers could be competing with themselves when transmitting mobile DTV. The panel, he said, will examine that issue.
“We will also have people on the panel from the Mobile Content Venture [Erik Moreno, SVP, corporate development, Fox] as well as the Mobile500 Alliance [Randa Minkarah, SVP, revenue and business development, Fisher Communications].
“These are the two groups who are developing content for mobile television. I want to see how they will work together, how they will compete and, more importantly, how outsiders envision their services. We’ll also discuss what it will take for mobile TV to become a ’mainstream’ service, and we’ll try to identify some realistic timetables for this process.”
In addition to Moreno and Minkarah, the panel will feature Saul Berman, global strategy and change services leader at IBM Global Business Services; John Elliott, partner, Accenture Mobility; John Fletcher, analyst, SNL Kagan; and Loren Lasley, VP worldwide sales, Siano Mobile Silicon.
Organizers of the NAB Engineering Conference have put together an entire afternoon (Sunday, April 10, in Room S219 starting at 1 p.m.) to address various aspects of mobile DTV.
Planned presentations include a review of the three-year effort to develop the service; an update on the field testing; a look at gap fillers, repeaters and translators; an examination of studio-to-transmitter links; a discussion of distributed antenna repeater systems; and a look at non-obvious considerations for adding mobile DTV to a broadcast station.
“The headline is the mobile DTV system is rapidly moving from a period of standardization to one of implementation,” said Jerry Whitaker, VP of standards development at the Advanced Television Systems Committee, who will open the session with a status report on the technology.
“The services are now being built out, business plans are being developed and it’s becoming a marketplace entity as opposed to being in trials and tests. The rollout begins in earnest this year. This is the year that broadcast stations want to put mobile on the air and are indeed acting on that.”
Whitaker said there’s a high level of interest in mobile DTV. “Mobile DTV has many facets to it,” he said. “There’s the technology of getting it on the air. There are the business issues of how to monetize it. There are service trade-offs like how do you divide up the through-put of content. There’s new codec technology, and — on the audio side — how to manage the dynamic range for mobile devices versus in the living room at home.”
Added just this week is a session called “Emergency Alerts in Mobile TV,” which will feature a group of Japanese broadcasters describing their experiences with mobile television during the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami. It will be held Tuesday, April 12, at 10:30 a.m. in room N249. Among other things, the session will address incorporating the Japanese emergency alert system into U.S. mobile DTV.
As part of the “Improving Mobile TV Reception” session, to be held on Thursday, April 14, at 10 a.m. in room S226, William Meintel, a partner in Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace, will discuss field testing of the mobile DTV standard by his firm, which indicates “there is a serious need for a new service prediction model.”
Meintel’s paper will proffer a new service prediction model based on field data integrated with propagation theory, receiver specifications, terrain data, land use data and available local environmental data.
In the North Hall of the convention center (N4036), the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) and the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), together with NAB, will sponsor the Mobile DTV Pavilion, a showcase of the evolving mobile DTV receiver technology.
Ten companies are participating: LG Electronics, Hauppauge Computer Works, DTVinteractive, Pixtree, Mobile Content Venture, Triveni, The Mobile500 Alliance, Crest Technology, Decontis and Axel Technology.
Dave Arland, OMVC spokesman, said many of the new products will remain in prototype form for the time being, although some are for sale.
Highlights include a new Valups Tivizen receiver that plugs into Apple’s iPad and iPhone to allow mobile DTV reception and RCA’s new line of hybrid mobile DTV/ATSC portable TV sets. A car will display live video with a special in-vehicle display from Winegard.
LG Electronics, Harris Corp., Roundbox, iSet Co. and WRAL Raleigh, N.C., will demonstrate some new applications of the emerging ATSC Non-Real-Time Content Delivery Candidate standard.
Working with Harris, LG will show a prototype of an Android-enabled smartphone that can receive non-real-time data via mobile DTV. The demo will show how users can access coupons from local merchants that are advertising on KLAS Las Vegas.
WRAL Raleigh will replicate the mobile signage service it provided on local transit authority buses.
LG, Harris and Roundbox will show an application that integrates Twitter. The system allows viewers to receive tweets and display them on a portion of the screen.
Harris and Roundbox will show how Web content created by Alabama Public Television can be delivered using the Roundbox WebCaster widget platform. The pushed content allows a local browsing experience on a broadcast-only receiver, as well as interactivity through links to external content if the device is Internet-connected.
iSet Co., a mobile datacasting manufacturer, will demonstrate its real-time, on-air traffic services live from Chicago, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The iSet solution encodes and schedules real-time raw traffic data, including accidents and traffic flow predictions, via its TPEG Watcher solution for transmission over the mobile DTV platform.
Other new services to be shown include emergency alerts that can be customized by market or location; datacasting with traffic maps; “clipcasting” sports and news highlights that can be stored in memory; time-shifted television; mobile digital video recording; and interactive polling.
The NAB convention is not all about mobile DTV, of course.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will deliver a speech on Tues., April 12 at 7:45 a.m., in the Las Vegas Hilton’s Barron Room. To the chagrin of many broadcasters, Genachowski has been pushing a plan to recover about 40% of broadcast spectrum and auction it off to wireless broadband operators.
Another theme is 3D. Indeed, the opening session (9 a.m. on Mon., April 11, in the Barron Room at the Las Vegas Hilton) will feature Avatar director James Cameron and Hollywood 3D guru Vince Pace.
There will also be numerous sessions on 3D production, including acquiring and producing 3D content for broadcast TV (Sat., April 9, 10:45 a.m., S222); 3D post production (Sat., April 9, 11:25 a.m., S222); 3D sports production (Wed., April 13, 10:30 a.m., S222); and lessons learned so far (Sat., April; 9, 8:45 a.m., S222).
Other miscellaneous engineering topics of note: improving local sound (Mon., April 11, 10:30 a.m., N235); 7.1 channel sound (Sun., April 10, 3:30 p.m., S222); TV loudness and lip sync (Mon., April 11, 10:30 a.m., S239); trends in broadcasting for the next three years (Sun., April 10, 4:20 p.m., S222); cloud-based technologies for broadcasters (Mon., April 11, 1:10 p.m., S220); and broadband delivery of television (Mon., April 11, 10:30 a.m., S228).