U.S. TV body approves mobile standard

The ATSC Mobile DTV standard lets current stations broadcast shows alongside conventional DTV

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), which oversees TV standards for the U.S., said Friday it has approved a standard for mobile digital broadcasts.

The ATSC Mobile DTV Standard will allow local TV stations to broadcast to mobile devices on the frequencies they already have. Consumers may be able to pick up the broadcasts on laptops, handheld TVs and in-vehicle entertainment systems as well as mobile phones.

Mobile TV has been more successful in some other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, than in the U.S. Handset makers Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics were promoting two different specifications to the ATSC until last May, when they joined forces on a unified proposal.

Consumers can already watch TV broadcasts on some Verizon Wireless and AT&T handsets, via the FLO TV network backed by Qualcomm. However, the FLO service is paid and is focused on national rather than local offerings.

ATSC Mobile DTV is carried alongside the regular over-the-air DTV broadcasts that U.S. stations have been delivering exclusively since analog TV was discontinued across the country in June. It uses a system called Vestigial Side Band modulation, with an IP (Internet Protocol) transport system, according to the ATSC. The technology can send H.264 video and HE AAC v2 (High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding, Version 2) audio. It can support interactive services, subscription-based TV and downloading of content for later viewing, the group said.

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Stephen Lawson

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