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LG, Samsung Team Up on Mobile DTV

Korean electronics giants LG Electronics and Samsung announced Wednesday that instead of proposing competing mobile-digital-television systems to the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the U.S. standard-setting body, they are teaming up to propose “their jointly developed technology as the North American technology standard for mobile DTV.”

The agreement was formally announced Wednesday at a signing ceremony at Seoul Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Korea, by Woo Paik, LG’s president and chief technology officer, and Jong Woo Park, president of Samsung digital-media business.

It comes just one day before the Open Mobile Video Coalition -- a collection of some 800 local stations that has been promoting the development of a U.S. mobile-DTV standard -- is due to submit its findings to the ATSC on field trials in San Francisco and Las Vegas of three mobile-DTV-transmission systems: MPH, the system proposed by LG and Harris; A-VSB, the system developed by Samsung, Rohde & Schwarz and Nokia; and a third system from Thomson and Micronas Semiconductor.

At the ATSC meeting last week, Mark Aitken, a Sinclair Broadcast Group vice president and head of the technical working group within ATSC that is leading the mobile-DTV-standard process, said the ATSC was on schedule to make a decision on the “physical layer,” or transmission system, for mobile DTV by mid-June. That most likely would have made either LG or Samsung the winner in the mobile-DTV-standards race, although theoretically, the Thomson/Micronas system is still in the running.

“LG and Samsung are already world-class in digital TV and mobile communications,” Paik said in a statement. “Through this collaboration, we also have an opportunity to lead the North American mobile-DTV market.”

The surprise deal eliminates the possibility of either LG or Samsung suffering a major loss to its Korean rival in the mobile-DTV-standards race, which seemed likely. Privately, ATSC members have suggested that one system was emerging to be clearly superior, although they wouldn’t identify which one. What is known is that the LG/Harris MPH system can deliver a single mobile stream at a slightly lower data rate than A-VSB -- an important consideration to broadcasters looking to juggle mobile TV with HD and standard-definition services.

“Our collaboration on North American mobile-DTV standardization will help to accelerate the ATSC standardization of mobile-TV technology, which will benefit both consumers and broadcasters,” Park said in a statement.