LG & Harris: Mobile TV platform

An interesting development from MocoNews today:

“LG Electronics and Harris Corporation announced that they are launching a new in-band DTV technology called MPH, which stands for Mobile-Pedestrian-Handheld. It is intended to allow broadcasters to send high definition signals to fixed devices and standard signals to smaller handheld receivers, and involves an upgrade to the broadcast towers of between $100,000 to $500,000 per tower.

Jay Adrick, vice president of broadcast technology at Harris Corporation, got back to me to clarify this. “The MPH system will be directed to a wide variety of devices such as mobile auto receivers, PDA’s, lap top computers, dedicated receiving devices and cell phones,” he said. The station’s business model will determine their focus on devices.”

From Daily Wireless:

“It would theoretically allow DTV broadcasters to beam signals to set-top-boxes in the home and mobile devices simultaneously from the same transmitting antenna (just like in Europe). Cellphone users would get vanilla SD content without a new transmitter (unlike Qualcomm’s MediaFLO). Backward compatibility with the existing ATSC 8-VSB transmission and receiving equipment would also keep those ATSC royalties coming to LG (Zenith).

Samsung has another approach to mobile television, called A-VSB (Advanced-Vestigial Side-Band). A-VSB, like DVB-H and Qualcomm’s MediaFLO uses time division multiplexing to allow the receiver to turn on, grab a big chunk of data, and then go to sleep. It is a hardened, but largely duplicative of the existing 8-VSB modulated digital broadcast.”

From Business Week:

“Two companies from Korea, land of the wireless future, are bringing technology to the U.S. that will allow television stations to bypass wireless carriers altogether and deliver programs directly to mobile phones. The latest development on this front came on Apr. 3 when LG Electronics, in partnership with Harris Corp. (HRS), unveiled new, inexpensive technology that allows stations to zip local news and other video content to phones, portable video players, and in-car entertainment systems within a 45-mile radius.

“We believe that mobile TV is really the next killer application for broadcasters,” says Brandon Burgess, president and CEO of ION Media Networks, which is participating in the negotiations. “There are a lot of broadcasters that are of the same mind.”

With MPH technology, each TV station will be able to broadcast either three high-definition or six standard-definition mobile-TV channels, says Adrick. A typical U.S. city has five or six stations operating in it. So if each of the stations carries six mobile-TV channels, locals will be able to choose among as many as 36 channels total. In comparison, MediaFlo offers two dozen channels. Adrick says the MPH technology could also, in a few years, incorporate video-on-demand functionality.”

From Harris:

“The MPH system is a multiple-stream approach, with the main service stream for existing DTV and HDTV services, and the MPH stream for one or more mobile, pedestrian and/or handheld services. Key attributes of the MPH system include:

  • Backward compatibility with the existing ATSC 8-VSB transmission and receiving equipment;
  • Capability to receive broadcast signals at high (mobile) speed with a single antenna;
  • Use of practical, small handheld receivers without the need for multiple antennas;
  • Power savings in handheld receivers;
  • Flexibility in both data rates and robustness;
  • Data-rate efficiency, and;
  • Use of advanced video and audio coding in the MPH™ stream.

The MPH system has the additional advantage for broadcasters of involving neither outside service providers nor spectrum-pooling arrangements.”

From Reuters:

“The companies will demonstrate the technology for the first time at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas later this month.

LG expects to have chips available later this year, Taylor said. Device makers would also need to agree to support the technology, but the type of devices used would depend on broadcasters’ plans he said.”

From RCR Wireless:

“It’s too soon to say whether this will affect the wireless industry’s recent foray into broadcast mobile television. MPHT enables local broadcasters to expand on the capability of their existing facilities for broadcasting TV signals by delivering that same signal to handheld devices, such as battery-operated TV sets or TV screens installed in the headrests of vehicles.

John Taylor, vice president of public affairs at LG Electronics Co. Ltd., said the new technology is “totally unrelated to anything cellphone” and is “not a mobile phone cellular solution.”

Taylor said “this is a new area for broadcasters” who are “looking for ways to reach more eyeballs with their signals.” He said the mobile solution for broadcasters has been a glaring missing piece of the puzzle. “We need this different kind of transmission technology,” he said. “This is really local, this is the ability to deliver local weather reports, local news.”

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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