ATSC Pushes Mobile TV Standard Forward

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) announced Monday that it has elevated its proposed specification for mobile digital television—to allow broadcasters to transmit video and data to handheld devices—to “candidate standard” status.

The ATSC expects the spec to be ratified as an official standard within the next six months, according to spokesman Daro Bruno.

The establishment of a broadcast standard for mobile TV is central to the efforts of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, a group of 20 companies that own and operate more than 450 commercial television stations and the Association of Public Television Stations, which represents 360 public TV stations.

“ATSC Mobile DTV will allow broadcasters to leverage the wireless and local nature of their DTV transmission,” ATSC president Mark Richer said, in a prepared statement.

The OMVC member companies, which are hoping to have compatible mobile-TV handsets in retail channels before the end of 2009, earlier this year conducted technical tests of three systems: one developed by LG Electronics and Harris; another from Samsung Electronics and Rohde & Schwarz; and a third from Thomson and Micronas.

The ATSC’s mobile DTV candidate is based on the LG/Harris system, which in May received support from Samsung, and incorporates existing standards including MPEG Advanced Video Coding (H.264) video compression.

In addition to live television, the spec provides a framework for running software on mobile devices that could provide for interactive television services, such as audience voting, as well as “data broadcasting” services such as providing real-time navigation data for in-vehicle use.

The ATSC Specialist Group on Mobile & Handheld, chaired by Sinclair Broadcast Group director of advanced technology Mark Aitken, evaluated the proposals and drafted the standard.